Alabama’s beaches will get a facelift next year and BP will foot the bill. This is in addition to the “Deep Clean” that is already underway and ahead of schedule. In a meeting with BP Chief Operating Officer Mike Utsler, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon got a verbal commitment for a beach renourishment project that will pump millions of cubic feet of sand back on Alabama’s coastline. The price tag: 30 million dollars.
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – The forces of nature and of man have taken a toll on Alabama’s beaches.
“Right through here we’ve got a six to seven foot drop off where it’s totally washed out,” says Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon pointing to map hanging in city hall.
A 30 million dollar commitment from BP will help change all that. “They’ve committed to a beach renourishment program and so I expect them to follow through,” says Kennon.
Beach renourishment involves pumping beach quality sand from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico onto the coastline. It’s expensive and according to Kennon, it has to be done. “Beach renourishment is necessary because we have to have a beach that fits within FEMA standards literally we have to know how many cubic yards of sand we have on that beach so we can get 100 percent reimbursement after a storm to put the beach back.”
Its been about five years since there’s been a beach renourishment project in Alabama, that was back in 2005 after Hurricane Ivan. Since then the beaches have gone through a lot including mother nature having her way with our coastline.
“I think it’s good.” Michael Scheadler lives here and fishes here. “Anything that we can do to make the beaches better and clean all this mess up and get tourism back down here and get everything back to normal.”
Normal may take a while but at least for now, things seem headed in the right direction. “This affects everybody. It’s like I’ve said all along. This is Alabama’s beaches not just Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island.”
Testing to find beach quality sand will begin in the first quarter of 2011. The project itself will start in the fall after next years tourist season.