Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy is willing to step into some choppy water if he truly plans to reignite the debate on renourishing the beach on St. Simons Island.
We have been down that road before and we still have the naturally shifting sands that accrete and recede, making more beach here, and less there at different times.
After two hurricanes in the past two years, we have seen how quickly the shape of our beaches can change. The devastating impacts of storm surge are powerful and capable of washing away almost any attempt by humans to stop them.
Why, then, does it make sense to throw money at trying? We know firsthand the next hurricane or tropical storm can easily erase millions of dollars worth of work.
It is true, our beaches are the primary draw for our booming, billion-dollar tourism industry. It is also true that if that beach were to go away, so would those jobs and tax revenue from the tourists.
But throwing money at something that is only likely to be washed away by the changing tides doesn’t seem reasonable.
Tybee Island must come up with nearly 40 percent of the cost to renourish its beaches on a regular basis. Dredging alone costs roughly $3 to $3.5 million, not to mention the cost of transporting and spreading the sand. The price tag for the entire project can quickly become unwieldy. After all is said and done, Glynn County would be on the hook for a big bill that would only require more and more to maintain.
It is understandable for Murphy to eye the $10 million the state is putting up for potential beach renourishment projects in its new budget. That looks like the nice chunk of change that could certainly put the Golden Isles on track for a bigger, wider beach. But if it all is temporary, then what will the long-term implications be?
We are no match for the intricate system God has created. We cannot justify pouring millions of dollars into a project we think is questionable in its long-term feasibility.
We have said it before, and we say it are saying it again — leave the beach be. It may seem dire at times, but the natural sand sharing system has a way of working things out.