South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Current SCELP Cases

Debidue Groins, II

Debidue Groins, II

On February 7, 2019, on behalf of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, SCELP filed a Request for Final Review Conference with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Board of Directors challenging the agency’s recent permit issued to Debordieu Colony Community Association (DCCA) authorizing the construction of three groins on Debidue Beach. The proposed groin system would be located on the southernmost end of DCCA’s property, with the southernmost groin located on the boundary with Hobcaw Barony, the Baruch Foundation property that is home to the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (“NERR”) in Georgetown County.

The groins were intended to protect a narrow strip of oceanfront houses that were built well-seaward of other oceanfront houses at the southernmost tip of Debordieu Colony. The houses were armored with a partially-failing seawall, which was built parallel to the shoreline. The houses were unwisely built seaward of adjacent houses due to artificial beach accretion that resulted when canals were dredged in the salt marsh and the dredge material was placed onto the beach, in essence extending the shoreline seaward.

Groins are erosion control structures constructed perpendicular to the beach, typically in an effort to protect beachfront houses. Groins work by capturing sand as it moves down the beach through longshore transport; however, in doing so, groins act to deprive the downdrift beaches of sand. The downdrift beaches, in this case, are the beaches that buffer one of the few pristine estuaries left in the United States and one of only 28 NERRs in the country and the pristine North…