Soft Sand in Isle of Palms Restored Beach Following Rain and Tide Event

Walking on the highest points of tilled areas affords the most stability.
Walking on the highest points of tilled areas affords the most stability.

The City of Isle of Palms has received reports from citizens of soft sand in the recently restored beach. In response to these concerns, the City has investigated conditions and worked with the City's Coastal Engineering Firm. Coastal Science & Engineering (CSE) assessed the situation this morning and reports that the soft sand is due to a combination of significant rain and tidal over wash of the berm which has saturated the berm and created a "waterlogged" beach.

"This soft sand creates conditions requiring beachgoers to use extreme caution when traversing this area," states Mayor Jimmy Carroll.

"Please be aware that beachgoers might unexpectedly step into one of these pockets of soft sand. Those beachgoers having physical challenges may wish to avoid the area of the beach from approximately access 57 to Dewees Inlet until this phenomenon concludes within the next couple of days and the shore is more stable," continues Mayor Carroll.

What has intensified this event is that the recent weather is the first significant rain event since the restored beach has been tilled. Tilling of the berm, which was required by the permitting agencies, is meant to reduce the sediment compaction so that the sand placed is loose enough to ensure suitable nesting habitat for sea turtles. Tilling loosens the sand and increases the pore space (amount of air) in the sand. When water is added to the freshly tilled sand, it fills the voids and creates the soft sand the beach is experiencing. It is expected that the beach should dry out in 2-3 days of good weather, and return to normal.

"The only remedy for this occurrence is time and repeated rain and over wash events, which will sort the sand to a natural compaction level where less water will be retained in the berm," says CSE Coastal Scientist, Steven Traynum. "We will continue to monitor the situation and the duration of the saturation and recovery of the newly restored beach. Until the beach dries, we recommend beachgoers use caution while walking over the berm."

The City is placing signs around the affected area alerting beachgoers of the soft sand. The area of the beach along the water line is not affected.