With rising water levels threatening Great Lakes shorelines, one northern Illinois community is seeking emergency approval from regulators to spread thousands of cubic yards of sand along an eroding beach.
Highland Park, which four years ago reopened Rosewood Beach after a $12 million renovation, hopes that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sign off on the project quickly enough so the work can be done in November, according to the Chicago Tribune.
City officials said the beach has narrowed by 70 feet in some areas since the renovation, threatening the stability of the boardwalk and structures in two of the three beach coves.
Much of that narrowing is from waves carrying sand offshore, said Rebecca Grill, the Park District of Highland Park's natural areas manager. She said because the level of the lake is rising, the waves are able to "reach higher and cause more damage."
She also said that as the water level has climbed, what was beach not that long ago is now underwater — something that communities lining the Great Lakes are dealing with as the water is reaching levels not seen in decades. Just to the south, the water has swallowed at least two Chicago beaches, submerged bike paths and pedestrian trails, and created hazards for boaters that now have to be on the lookout for submerged jetties.
The Tribune reports that the cost of the buying the sand, transporting it from a quarry and spreading it onto the beach will be about $190,000. That cost, which Highland Park will pay, is expected to rise because the total does not include engineering fees.
Besides consulting on the immediate emergency project, Margaret Boshek, a costal engineer with SmithGroup, which consults the park district, has been asked to propose ways that Highland Park might reduce the wave energy reaching the shoreline and thus reduce the amount of sand that is carried away. One possibility is reducing the size of the opening between the breakwaters, officials said.