South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Groins - Hitting Close to Home
Posted: December 13, 2017

Within our broader battle to enforce and defend the Beachfront Management Act, SCELP and its clients have challenged permits for "groins" (shore perpendicular structures designed to trap sand) all over South Carolina's beaches since the 1990s. Over time, our efforts led to tighter rules for these structures which are crucial to protecting adjacent beaches and the publicĀ“s interest in beach access. The regulations now require an applicant to demonstrate that a new groin will not cause any downdrift impacts. This requirement is critical because the overwhelming scientific opinion is that groins, by their very nature, cause detrimental impacts to downdrift beaches by trapping sand that would otherwise be naturally carried downdrift and replenish those beaches.

Beachfront management and erosion challenges have since become even more daunting due to sea level rise and the intensification of extreme weather episodes. These concerns affect all coastal communities in our state, but they are particularly relevant to SCELP's backyard and hometown ... Georgetown County, the theater of the two most recent victories on this front, this year and in 2011, as well as the subject of careful study and analysis by coastal experts and concerned citizens alike.

Alas, more groins are being planned for our community and in such locations as to potentially harm major natural treasures in the area. By interfering with the natural longshore transport of sands along the Atlantic coast, any new hard structure North of Winyah Bay would directly impact the islands and shores encompassed in the North Inlet Estuarine Research Reserve, accelerating erosion and the potentially disruptive impact of sea-level rise.

You can read more about our early case, which led to the 2002 modifications of the Beachfront Management Act, in the newsletter excerpts linked below.

Download available Hilton Head Groins Case

Download available Hilton Head Groins Case Update