Beach Health Update

At the Feb. 5 Town Council meeting, Coastal Science and Engineering President Steven Traynum provided an update on 2023 beach monitoring for Kiawah Island. Overall, the island is healthy, and is benefiting from sand from the north beaches. Past beach projects include a restoration project in 2006, which realigned the inlet and provided beach restoration; and there was a Captain Sam’s Inlet relocation in 2015. There have been about 30 storms impacting the coasts in the last decade, which is significantly larger than previous decades, with seven declared FEMA disasters. Sea level rise has also increased. Some key events that have had impact include the shoal attachment at the east end of the island near Ocean Course, Hurricane Idalia, and the December 2023 Nor’easter, which was the fourth highest water level on record.

There are higher rates of erosion on the island’s beaches overall observed since 2015. Eugenia Avenue and Mariners Watch are the most vulnerable to erosion, due to the lack of sufficient sand being naturally replenished to make up for the sand loss. West Beach and Turtle Point, two developed areas on the island, have been stable regarding lost sand volume. Traynum recommended applying for an east end channel realignment permit to enact if specific beach conditions are met, to protect the integrity of the Ocean Course property.