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Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 11:38am

Tybee Residents Worry About Sand Quality

Some Tybee Island residents are worried Savannah harbor deepening will mar the community's big attraction.

Residents and scientists disagree on the quality of sand the project will put on the island's tourism-generating beach.

When the harbor is deepened, the US Army Corp of Engineers will pump sand from the bottom of the Savannah River and put it just off the Tybee shore to combat beach erosion.

In a detailed, 3,000-page study, Corp scientists say, the sand meets state standards.

But Lou Off of the Tybee Beach Task Force says, that's not reassuring.

"You would have areas of very soft spots and the possibility of somebody sinking into the sand quickly, three, four, five, six inches," Off says. "If nothing else, it would scare somebody when all of a sudden they start sinking into the sand."

Off also worries a sand bar could create dangerous rip currents.

"This would be a great thing for Tybee 'but...'" Off says. "And they haven't gone anywhere as far as answering the 'but.'"

A US Army Corp of Engineers spokesman says, the river-bottom sand has been studied extensively and is at least 80% sand.

The state Department of Natural Resources requires sand placed just offshore in beach renourishment projects to be at least 80% sand.

On-shore sand -- for the beach -- has to meet a higher standard.

Tybee Island and Corp officials are scheduled to meet next week to address the issues.

A public meeting is expected later this month.

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