Sand is becoming New England coastal dwellers’ most coveted and controversial commodity as they try to fortify beaches against rising seas and severe erosion caused by violent storms.
From Westerly, R.I., to Eliot, Maine, debates over who gets sand, who pays for it, and where it comes from are fast becoming some of the region’s most contentious oceanfront issues. In many cases, taxpayers are being asked to foot some of the bill for beach-rebuilding projects.
“It’s called the sand wars,’’ said S. Jeffress Williams, a coastal geologist and scientist emeritus with the United States Geological Survey in Woods Hole and the University of Hawaii. The disputes, happening across the coastal United States, “are only going to get more intense,” he said. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom based at Boston University and WGBH TV/radio and supported in part by New England news outlets. NECIR interns Michael Bottari and Alicia Juang helped research and prepare this report. Follow Beth Daley on Twitter at @BethBDaley.