REHOBOTH BEACH, DEL. -- Delaware officials are studying ways to restore the state's eroding beaches, taking into consideration a project Maryland has begun in Ocean City, a spokeswoman for the governor said Monday.

Gov. Michael Castle, owner of a Rehoboth Beach home, wants to spend $75,000 for a comprehensive study of long-term solutions, said Kathryn Way, acting director of the Office of Planning and Coordination.

"We really think it's necessary to spend another year studying it," Way said. "The goal is to put some information together to come up with a holistic plan" rather than a piecemeal approach.

Delaware's 25 miles of beach are eroding -- as are all beaches on the East Coast -- because the sea level is rising, an average of a foot a century, geologists say.

One day during last summer's peak tourist season, the beach at Bethany was covered by water and the area was closed to swimmers.

Northeast winds routinely cause water to lap at foundations in South Bethany.

In Rehoboth Beach and Seashore State Park, thick, pitted mud often replaced sand last summer.

Local officials have increasingly called for a beach preservation program. Rehoboth Mayor Kimber Vought proposed last week setting up a fund so residents and visitors to the "Nation's Summer Capital" could make donations.

Maryland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are beginning a $40 million project to pump sand on the beach and construct a barrier of protective dunes and bulkheads at Ocean City.

When beach replenishment was discussed in 1975, the Corps said the project for Delaware's coast would cost $40 million.

"It gets very expensive, mostly because of the quantities of sand that you have to haul to the beach or pump to the beach to make a difference," state beach regulations Administrator Anthony Pratt said.

"There's no sense in hauling in sand for a couple of weeks and finding out it's the amount of sand that could be moved by a storm in a few hours."