Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Need for Sand in Ocean City, Maryland

contact: Stephen Van Ryswick (

Sand Resources
(page 4 of 1, 2, 3, 4)

Sand is dredged from offshore depositsThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Ocean City beach restoration feasibility study conducted in the 1980's indicated an immediate need for beach replenishment along the Ocean City shoreline (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1980). There was also a projected need for beach nourishment on Assateague Island. The Army Corps study also examined potential sand sources during the planning phase of Delmarva beach restoration projects. Beach nourishment projects demand that sand resources meet certain physical, economic, and environmental criteria. Sand used for replenishment must be of an optimum grain size, which is determined by kinetic factors specific for each region. The volume of sand required for restoration is also dependent on these factors. The proximity of sand sources to the target beach is an important economic factor. Based on these factors, the Army Corps study concluded that offshore sands are the most desirable materials for beach nourishment projects in Maryland.

Sand is pumped onto the beachCurrently utilized resources are located north of Ocean City Inlet, within the three-mile limit of state jurisdiction. These sands are committed to the reconstruction and periodic nourishment of Ocean City beaches. Demand for offshore sands is increasing as more shore communities opt for shoreline replenishment. An increase in the frequency of strong storms has accelerated erosion of the restored beaches. These factors place increasing demands on the sand resources within state waters. It is conceivable that sand resources within state waters could be depleted after the scheduled 2010 nourishment cycle. From the period 2014 to 2044 at least 7.6 million cubic meters of sand will be required to maintain Ocean City beaches. New sand sources are needed outside state waters to meet increased demand. Access to sand resources in Federal waters would encourage the continuation of shoreline restoration projects.

Maryland Geological Survey has been investigating potential offshore sand resources since 1992. For information on Maryland's Offshore Sand Resources, click here.

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