ISLE OF PALMS - Uh oh, not again - the first complaint has been filed with the state about sandbags at Wild Dunes being washed away to litter Dewees Inlet.
It's a reminder of the 2007 "sandbag debacle" that led to state fines. But managers say the larger bags out there now are under control. The state isn't fining anybody, yet.
Department of Health and Environmental Control staff inspected a clam farm in Dewees Inlet after a complaint was made Wednesday. DHEC will continue "compliance inspections," said Mark Plowden, department communications director. But "an enforcement action has not been initiated at this time."
An Isle of Palms official and a resort official say patrols are made twice per day at low tide to clean up loose bags on the beach and the situation is under control.
"Between our crew and the contractor (crew) we're out there seven days per week. We're vigilant," said Jeff Minton, resort golf director.
But Devin Sadler, who farms clams off Dewees Island, is incensed.
"I've been picking up sandbags for a couple of months now," he said. "I had to jump through (regulatory) hoops to get my permit. But Wild Dunes is getting a pass." Sadler said he saw two or three bags in the water in the past week alone.
The Dewees Inlet end of Wild Dunes is a volatile stretch of beach for erosion and shoal attachment. In 2008 the beach was renourished, but has eroded continually since then. Officials now are waiting for a shoal, or sandbar, just off the beach to move in with the currents, so sand can be scraped from the shoal to renourish the stretch again. That's expected to happen in November.
In the meantime, the larger sandbags have been placed in front of the 18th hole of the resort's Links course, as well as the Ocean Club and Seascape Villas condominiums alongside, and now Beachwood East homes farther down the beach.
The situation is eerily reminiscent of 2007, when the same row of homes, condominiums and golf course hole staved off the seas by piling tens of thousands of small sandbags that then washed away in storms and littered the coast nearby.
The larger bags are supposed to be more stable. Observers have reported a few of them collapsing and lying in the tide flow on the beach.
"They're saying the these bags are more stable but the current just washes them out," Sadler said.
Earlier this month, resort resident Ann Lewis saw at least a half dozen collapsed bags flattened against the dune fencing or half-buried in the sand at the far end of the island next to the Dewee's channel, she said. But when she returned two days later they were gone.
"Someone is evidently cleaning the beach of sand bags as they pick up the trash," she said.
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