South Carolina’s twenty-five year ban on seawalls is under scrutiny as a result of a new bill introduced in the General Assembly. Since 1988 construction of new seawalls has been forbidden, with beaches and other coastal communities relying instead on renourishment programs to protect existing construction.
As reported in The State newspaper, the bill was introduced after a homeowner on Folly Beach began constructing a wall despite the state law. Coastal regulators ordered him to remove it, prompting a state senator to sponsor the bill, which would allow the wall to remain and allow other seaside homeowners to construct walls.
Folly Beach faces particular troubles with erosion, primarily due to its location just south of Charleston Harbor. According to local officials, the beach is also long overdue for a federally-backed renourishment project, leaving approximately $300 million in oceanfront property at risk. Critics of seawalls point out that they actually increase erosion problems, as waves that hit the walls cause further displacement of sand.
The Senate Agriculture Committee recently decided not to vote on the bill this session but agreed the matter needed further examination and would be re-opened when the legislature convenes again in January 2014.