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Beach Erosion--Can it be fixed?

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by Travel2Much, Jul 11, 2005.

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  1. KyGeologist

    KyGeologist Beach Crab

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    For what its worth, I've met the Duke Professor in question. He *IS* extremely opinionated about building on the beach, and not very realistic about it. He admits as much himself, surprisingly. The media often go to him and quote him in articles such as this to get the "nobody should be there in the first place" angle for a story. However, he has studied beach and coastal processes for much of his career and is actually one of the most knowledgeable in the field... ...he just happens to be an opinionated JERK about it. He has coordinated a series of books about how coastlines work in different parts of the country. He shares the concerns expressed here about the major importance of preserving dunes. Enough about him.

    Even though I am a geologist, and have some understanding of the geologic processes at work and the hazards they pose, I and my family will continue to visit the beach as often as we can, and will continue to support (as best we can) the folks that live and make their living along the coast.

    As to the original question about whether beach erosion can be fixed... it can, if it is done right. The beach profile at a given time is a reflection of the waves, the shape of the beach, the sediment on the beach, AND the geometry of the seafloor. If any of those get changed, whether by a storm or an engineering project, then the beach profile will adjust to accommodate the changes. The problem is the complex interaction between those is very poorly understood, and some contractors may not take all the factors into account. Hopefully, the contractors involved in the South Walton projects have been (and will be?) taking as much as possible into account. After all the poundings, stress, and heartache all y'all folks who live on these beaches have endured, you deserve to have your beaches properly repaired as much as possible.

    KyGeologist
     
  2. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    From what I've seen, the final product in SoWal leaves a lot to be desired, but I am a layman for sure. I knew one engineer awhile back that engineered everything properly, and every time the builder and owner hopped up and down screaming about the expense and how it was overkill, and in the end almost everyone goes with the cheapest possible option. Which has been cheap indeed. I'm sure many owners have been told that their improperly engineered and built house will stand forever, against any type of weather.

    We also have a lot of older structures made of sticks that were built while no one was looking.

    Ed Walline built a lot of the old concrete bunker houses which have held up very well, except for the ones now falling onto the beach from 40-foot bluffs.

    If you're too close to the water, nothing, not even mountains, will be spared from the relentless, ruthless, wonderful forces of nature. I'm with the Blue Devil on that one.
     
  3. KyGeologist

    KyGeologist Beach Crab

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    Well, I agree about the forces of nature: if the coast decides to move, it can't be stopped, only delayed.

    I'm sorry to hear that some folks have gotten duped or taken down the cheap route... everyone deserves better.

    On a related note: when were the houses along Eastern Lake built? Were they well built in your opinion? ...and Kurt, how did you get access to the beach in front of Eastern Lake Road to get the photos you took yesterday? I'm glad to see that some folks were able to get out and enjoy the sun and sand.
     
  4. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    It is far too complicated for me to even begin to pretend to be an expert. And yet building away from the water as possible sounds like an easy solution - that rarely occurs.

    There are a lot of houses on Eastern Lake, which ones are you speaking of?
     
  5. KyGeologist

    KyGeologist Beach Crab

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    I was thinking specifically of the houses between SeaTurtle's house with the dangling porch (ouch, I feel awful for him and his family!) and the outlet of Eastern Lake: you posted photos of this stretch of beachfront yesterday (west of the outlet...)
     
  6. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    I think they are all different.
     
  7. Bob

    Bob SoWal Insider

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    great idea, will never happen
     
  8. Cork On the Ocean

    Cork On the Ocean directionally challenged

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  9. JB

    JB Beach Fanatic

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    I can understand their line of thinking on this. The homes must be saved. But to use this method to rebuild the entire dune line is a mistake. Backhoes would take huge amounts of bottom sand from a single compact area, leaving gaping holes in the gulf floor. Not to mention they can only reach far enough out to collect sand from just beyond the break line. Dredging collects and deposits sand evenly.

    The first sand bar that grew immensely after Arlene is where the sand needs to come from.

    As painful as it may be for some, IMO, dredging is the only option. Not only do the dunes need to be re-built, but the beaches need to be widened - especially in places like Blue Mountain and Miramar.
     
  10. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    It probably will happen at some point. Whether it's right or wrong. It's complicated and people being people will do what they can to do what they can.
     
  11. sunsetdunes

    sunsetdunes Beach Lover

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    The sad fact is that hurricanes always eat beachfront homes. It will happen sooner or it will happen later, but it will eventually happen.

    People and businesses need to be encouraged not to build on top of the dunes so close to the water. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but it should not be the responsibility of the taxpayer to shore up private homes when history shows that it isn't a good idea to build on top of the dunes.

    Just my 2 cents. :idontno:
     
  12. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    If people are allowed to exercise their rights and build, they will build, come hell or high water. :D
     
  13. sunsetdunes

    sunsetdunes Beach Lover

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    Dr. Pilkey is a well-respected expert on shoreline management.

    http://www.beachbrowser.com/Archives/Environment/August-99/ORRIN-H-PILKEY.htm

    Orrin Pilkey is a James B. Duke Professor of Geology and Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS) within the Division of Earth and Ocean Science at Duke University.

    Pilkey received his B.S. degree in Geology at Washington State College, his M.S. degree in Geology at the University of Montana and his Ph.D. degree in Geology at Florida State University. His research career started with the study of shoreline/ continental shelf sedimentation, progressing to the deep sea with empahasis on abyssal plain sediments and back to nearshore with emphasis on coastal management. He has published more than 150 technical publications.

    Currently PSDS research focuses on beach replenishment and other forms of shoreline stabilization, evaluation of the validity of mathematical models of beach behavior, hazard risk mapping on barrier islands, sedimentary processes on shorefaces, mitigation of hurricane property damage on barriers, and principles of barrier island evolution in Colombia, South America.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2005
  14. sunsetdunes

    sunsetdunes Beach Lover

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    By "encouraged," I actually mean by law, not the goodness of their hearts.
     
  15. JB

    JB Beach Fanatic

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    A couple things: First, existing homes can't be moved.

    Secondly, people who build on vacant lots (of which there are scarcely few left) don't want to be set back from existing homes on either side. It obstructs their view. And I can understand it. I would not want to sit on the deck of my new $4 million gulf front home and be able to see only a sliver of the gulf, only to turn slightly sideways and be looking at the side of someone else's home.

    Someone above mentioned installing rip rap against the existing cliffs, then covering with sand. Of course, that may be more expensive, and more labor-intensive than simply replacing the sand. I do think it is a good idea, but can you imagine the amount of rocks that would have to be trucked in? Boggles the mind.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2005
  16. sunsetdunes

    sunsetdunes Beach Lover

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    I guess you get a choice: a view and having the house eventually wash away, or no view and keeping the house. I chose the latter. :idontno:

    I realize existing homes can't be moved :D But, it makes sense not to replace them once they are gone.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2005
  17. JB

    JB Beach Fanatic

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    I'm not saying it's right or wrong. Only speaking to people's mindset when they build. Thing is, the newer developments (like the Retreat) had an opportunity to build all the homes a bit further back and chose not to do so.
     
  18. sunsetdunes

    sunsetdunes Beach Lover

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    And that's because people insist on a view and the developers make more money by putting them closer to the water. :lolabove:
     
  19. Travel2Much

    Travel2Much Beach Lover

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    I have found this site real good in explaining the issues and mechanics:

    http://www3.csc.noaa.gov/beachnourishment/

    In the "Human Dimensions" side there is a debate b/w Pikey & the opposing side.

    From what I saw on the beach yesterday, without anything quick if we get another hurricane there could be a catastrophe of major proportions in the works. Lots of variables in that and I am always a worrier.
     
  20. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    And that is why something will be done, even if we're not sure it's the right thing to do.
     
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