The Ocean City Beach is rapidly disappearing into the Atlantic


Ocean City, Maryland is located on a barrier island… a long strip of land and dune ridges formed by offshore sand and wave action. Barrier islands are vulnerable to storm damage. Normal wave action takes sand from near shore sandbars and washes it back onto the beach. This creates a balance which offers barrier islands some storm protection.

Extensive beachfront building in Ocean City and natural sea level rises have distributed the normal beach erosion/replenishment balance. The result: a world class recreational beach and its billion and a half dollar manmade structures at risk. A major storm could drive waves across the beach and, in the absence of a landward dune line, undercut buildings, overrun the island and cause catastrophic losses.

What can be done?

The federal, state, and local governments have teamed up to develop a project which, by imitating nature, can restore and protect the beach. The same engineering techniques to be used in replenishing and protecting Ocean City have been successful in Florida, New Jersey, and other places with barrier island development problems.


The Ocean City Beach Replenishment and Hurricane Protection Project will be built in two phases.

First, the recreation beach will be extended to about 220 feet in width. The effort began the first week in May and is due for completion in September/October, 1988. It will cost $12.2 million, to be shared by state, county and the city.

Second phase of the project involves a bulkhead in front of the boardwalk and a vegetation dune at the landward side of the beach .. From the boardwalk to the Delaware line. This will provide hurricane protection. This effort is due to begin in late 1989 and be completed by 1992.

How will the beach be rebuilt?

The contractor will use huge dredges to “borrow” sand from offshore. The dredge vessels are located some 1 to 2 miles from shore; one at the Delaware end of the beach and the other at the mid Ocean City area.

The hydraulic dredge at the south end of the beach will be equipped with a cutter head, similar to a coal mine digger, which will chew into the sand, vacuum it up and pump it ashore through a system of huge pipes.

The vessel on the north side of the beach, a hopper dredge, will vacuum up the sand from the bottom, store it in a hopper and then, about 3,000 feet from shore, hook up its hopper to a pump and pump the sand to the beach.

Both vessels will move up (or down) the beachfront doing dredging as necessary. As the sand is moved ashore it will be shaped by bulldozers and the pipeline extended along the shore to create a wide, gradually rising beach. At the landward side of the beach there will be a level berm. It will take about one day to do a city block area. Bulldozers will gradually move toward each other and when they meet, the new recreation beach should be some 220 feet wide … From Fifth Street to the Delaware line.

Special Interest Notes:

When the project is completed contractors will have moved more than six million cubic yards of sand.The sand that is pumped ashore will be similar to existing beach sand in color and texture when it dries.During the winter, beginning in 1988, some of the new sand will move offshore and the Atlantic will appear to be reclaiming the new beach. Not so! The sand will settle in a nearby offshore area to stabilize the beach at a gradual slope and sand will be back in the spring. Normal maintenance will keep the beach at the proper slope and width.

Who is responsible for the project?

The State of Maryland .. William Donald Shaffer, GovernorThe Town of Ocean City .. Mayor Roland “Fish” PowellBoard of Commissioners, Worchester County … K. Bennett Bozman, PresidentThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore DistrictHundred of beachfront property owners who unselfishly donated property easements to the State so this project could move forward .And You, the Citizens of Maryland

“Rebuilding and protecting the beach at Ocean City is an outstanding example of what governments can do when they work together for the people.” – Former Governor William Donald Schaefer