Seawalls, Geo-tubes, Beach Scraping and Beach Nourishment. What is the answer?

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by Dave Rauschkolb, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Coastal Erosion solutions: Seawalls, Geo-tubes, Beach Scraping and Beach Nourishment. What is the answer?

    Basically, when the ocean rises due to a hurricane there are three powerful forces at work: wind, rising tide and ocean swells from a storm. The water that is moved by those forces moves in three directions. The tide brings the water up, the storm moves the wave action in and the wind pushes the water/waves in the direction of the wind.

    Most of us who have experienced a hurricane know that when a storm approaches and we are on the east side of that storm we get winds from the northeast, then east, then southeast, then south and on around to the west and so on. The inverse would be true if we were on the west side of the storm. The key point is that for a large portion of the time the tide is abnormally high, the swells are abnormally big and the east or west current is scouring the beaches parallel to the beach.

    The beach sand is a porous movable material that is completely vulnerable to these forces. Solid structures are also vulnerable to these forces but, more importantly the sand next to any solid structure will be scoured away much more rapidly than if there was no solid structure near it.

    Let's dispense with scraping first. It makes the beach nicer to look at but that's it. It is newly pushed sand that has no level of impaction so it washes away in minutes. Placing sand back on the cliff/dunes and planting sea oats provides a favorable cosmetic solution.

    Seawalls and geo-tubes are solid, heavy structures. Any porous sand next to these structures gets scoured away very rapidly making the situation worse near them. If you have a house next to a seawall, your backyard will go faster as the east riptide and oncoming waves collide with the seawall. The same is true with the beach in front of the seawall. The impact of the water hitting it and pushing sideways with the tide completely eliminates the beach in front of it. All you need to do is look at the wall in Galveston Texas; there used to be a beach there, now you just jump off the wall into the water; no beach. A geo tube is heavy and more solid than the sand. Any thing near these things will have sand scouring next to them too. Also when the water gets behind a seawall it washes away the sand behind it with the same impunity. Some of you might have seen the photo of the breached seawall on Dog Island I posted after Hurricane Dennis.

    The largest seawall in the county is being installed just east of Seaside and it runs from the Wheel House/Seagrove villas and ends at the 30-A/395 intersection and could go further as adjacent homeowners buy on. It is roughly 20 feet high and runs 4 blocks long. Adjacent homeowners will be affected and the beach behind that wall will disappear if we get a few more storms to start the scouring activity. The prevailing winds here are from the east and the river of sand that runs along our beach could soon be interrupted and affected by this seawall.

    The only solution to our erosion problem is to focus on getting our beaches nourished by pumping sand back on to the beaches. All of Walton County is being surveyed and the wheels are in motion. All these seawalls will do is destroy adjacent property and eliminate the beaches behind them. Geo-tubes will have a similar effect as the water washes over and around them.

    Rosemary Beach has investigated thoroughly all options including geotubes and has decided to push for the sand dredging/beach nourishment option. There will be no geotubes or seawalls in Rosemary Beach. They did decide to do some cosmetic work (scraping) on the dunes/cliffs and finish with sea oat plantings. The town manager, James Bagby gave a very informed talk at the Rosemary Beach Homeowners meeting on where the county and federal agency's are in the beach nourishment process and it looks like it could happen countywide if approved. Jim said the pumping would take 3 days to do Rosemary Beach and would raise the beach 6 to 8 feet and go out 100 to 150 feet out.

    The nourishment effort/process has taken its course in the west end of the county and they will soon begin pumping sand there. They are beginning the process for our part of the county from Inlet beach down and there will soon be a stage for public input. The whole beachfront of the county is being surveyed for this purpose and sand core samples are being taken in the gulf for sources of white sand. Funding will be an issue but if approved the beaches will be automatically nourished by the federal government after major storms. Panama City beach has been doing this for years already.

    In Okaloosa County 5 beachfront homeowners disputed the nourishment project delaying it in lawsuits for 2 years. They were concerned that the thin strip of public access from the high tide waterline to the water would be enlarged if the beach was widened and people would set up beach chairs behind their property. I believe they are now being sued by adjacent owners who lost their homes in recent storms. When the time comes for public input our county voices must be united behind the nourishment answer. That?s the answer.
     
  2. GVM

    GVM Beach Lover

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    Very informative. Thanks. Is it correct that without the pumping...it would take many years for the vertical loss of dunes to be replaced by natural means? And I mean MANY years. What's the earliest we might be looking at for the pumping project? There's no escaping the fact that our beaches ain't what they used to be.
     
  3. Beachlover2

    Beachlover2 Beach Fanatic

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    Thank you so much for your opinion - I too agree with you and will fight if I have to make sure the county does the right thing to protect our beaches
     
  4. ktmeadows

    ktmeadows Beach Fanatic

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    Great assessment of the situation, Dave. I agree with you that the obvious solution is to begin pumping sand back on to the beaches ASAP. I suppose at issue now are the sea turtles, right? Isn't their nesting season over sometime in November? How is it that Panama City and Destin (I think) have been able to pump/dredge sand? When my son and family drown down to our place in Seagrove back in June right after one of the TS/hurricanes (there have been so many I forget which happened when!), Panama City tourism had commercials running on local radio stations telling folks to head on over to Panama City if they find their vacation beaches weren't up to par due to the storms.

    The beaches all along 30-A were so beautiful and pristine back when we purchased our place in 2002. I know that nature eventually takes care of things one way or the other, but hopefully the county will do the smart thing to get these beaches back to at least a glimpse of what they once were...and with WHITE sand The first thing they need to do is get that ugly brown dirt removed and stop any further dumping!
     
  5. katie blue

    katie blue kt loo

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    Pardon my lengthy post. I have a lot of questions. Some of these thoughts may be premature, in that I haven't heard the latest "scoop" from the county, but this is what a forum is for.

    I can understand gulffront homeowners needing a temporary solution to get thru hurricane season, but it's unrealistic to think that some of these homeowners will spend add'l money to remove "temporary" walls once in place. Our county enforces code violations spottily, at best.

    If statistics show that the beach is going to erode, irrevokably and completely, due to permanent walls, we need to act fast. It will be far easier to prevent more going up than to tear them down after the fact. Homeowners need protection and our beaches need to be preserved...we need renourishment immediately, this winter. I pray the wheels are in motion on this, and they may be. But after several years of seeing Walton County in action, I can't be so sure anymore. We can't prevent natural disasters, but I'd sure hate to think we lost our beach due to inertia and lack of organization, if those things could help us right now.

    Is there anyone among us who can inform us of what's acually going on? ANd if necessary, what steps we could or should take to fight the permanent seawall provision and demand renourishment? Is there a provision that allows citizens to organize a town hall meeting, or other public forum?

    Most other eroding resort beaches renourish regularly...why is our county so behind on this? Why are they allowing these walls to become permitted and permanent? Is it basic greed and corruption, or are they just shortsighted, misinformed, or, how you say, one Brady short of a Bunch?

    I always feel like I get trustworthy info from Brad Pickel. Anyone heard the latest from him?

    This winter strikes me as a critical time to address the long term solution. Do I have to create a community action website? I will. Or could we leverage an existing site like swcc.org? It just seems that the thinking people have answers that are win-win, but there's no obvious forum to express them to the powers that be.
     
  6. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    The process of dredging from start to finish is a lengthy one. The west end project that will happen this Winter was put in motion a couple of years ago.
     
  7. katie blue

    katie blue kt loo

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    Was that due mainly to gov't permitting timelines, or the property-rights flak that some homeowners used to halt the progress? :idontno:
     
  8. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    I'm not sure how much time the lawsuit added but the permitting does take awhile.
     
  9. Rita

    Rita margarita brocolia

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    Katie Blue makes very good points.

    Is there any coordination and sharing of information (such as Dave R. so clearly posts) between experts or otherwise knowledgable folks with the county people who have the power to make some decisions.
     
  10. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Here is a response from Anita Page of the SWCC. Please attend this meeting to get more informed on this issue.


    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for speaking out on this issue. I totally agree with your synopsis. What is happening to our beaches is chaos and could ultimately degrade the beaches beyond their ability to recover naturally. What is Seaside doing?

    I hope you can come to our public forum next Thursday. (Oct. 20th) We are having three experts present on the role of beaches, dunes and wetlands in assimilating storm surge. Seawalls will be part of the discussion. It is from 7-8:30 p.m. at the South Walton library.

    Thanks, Dave.

    Anita Page

    On 10/13/05 11:23 AM, "Dave Rauschkolb" <drmail@mchsi.com> wrote:
     
  11. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    Coastal systems experts to discuss hurricane impacts October 20
    South Walton Community Council will present a forum on beaches, dunes and wetlands as our coastlines? natural defense systems in major storm events. The meeting will be held in at 7 p.m. October 20 at the Coastal Branch Library in Santa Rosa Beach. Speakers include: William (Bill) F. DeBusk, Ph.D. is a water quality scientist with Escambia County and a certified Professional Wetland Scientist. Bill has been involved in several environmental assessment and management projects in Walton County, particularly Costal Dune Lakes.
    Taylor (Chips) Kirschenfeld is a marine biologist and senior water quality scientist in Escambia County with over 25 years of water quality, wetland and habitat restoration experience in Northwest Florida. In 2001, Kirschenfeld wrote a new wetlands ordinance for Escambia County that strengthened and clarified protection standards for wetlands, wetland buffers, and other environmentally sensitive lands.
    David McGehee, a coastal engineer, will also be on hand for the discussion.
     
  12. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    The beaches looked wonderful when we bought our place in April 03. Wasn't that about 11 years after Opal? So, what did nature/the town do after Opal. It seemed to have worked in terms of making our beaches beautiful again with white sand, sloping dunes covered with sea oats, etc. Perhaps a difference is that there are many more owners who built on the dunes since Opal and who are looking for fixes to save their property.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2005
  13. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    There was a LOT of scraping, rebuilding, and planting. The key was having time for it all to settle and take root. There has been a lot of residences built since then that's for sure. And a lot more expensive ones.
     
  14. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    Thanks, David, for educating us. I had no idea what damage seawalls could do (or why). Hopefully you, as a long-time 30-A business icon, and people that you know have the power to help stop the seawalls and other damaging practices.
     
  15. Shutters

    Shutters Beach Comber

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    Dave's very informative post says the dredging will take only 3 days to do all of Rosemary Beach and go out 100 to 150 feet. Another post says the process for just the west end has taken years, albeit much of this time has been in court or caught up in bureaucratic red tape. I feel SoWal has 5 months (Nov - March) to dredge the entire length of the 18-mile beach before the tourists come back, and 8 months before we brace ourselves for the another hurricane season. This is probably an unrealistic timeline, so it?s time to prioritize and that brings up a few questions.

    What areas need to be dredged the most?
    Currently what section of the beach is slated to be dredged and when?
    (I guess I'm looking for something more specific than "west end")
    Is the county plan to go from west to east in a blanket dredge?
    How long does the dredging need to settle to become part of the landscape?
    What size storm will the dredging be able to withstand?
    Are the homeowners paying for the Rosemary dredging?
    What is the cost per foot of shoreline?

    Regarding the MASSIVE seawall. It's a travesty but I also understand the homeowners need to put up something right now that stops the erosion of their property. Although it's very short sided, as the value of their property is totally dependant on the beach just beyond it. If left up, I can foresee a day where you won't be able to walk from Seagrove to Seaside on the beach, as there will be a very long section of just water. I did walk the length of the wooden seawall and it's currently over 1000 feet. The metal section, which is much more permanent, is another 150 - 200 feet. Both of these seawalls seem very permanent to me, especially the metal one. Unfortunately, unless we band together and create quite a stir, or court action, I believe they are here to stay. Here are some photos of the seawall last weekend.
     
  16. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    Many seawalls you see on the beach are already permitted to be permanent. The west end project starts at Four Mile Village just east of Sandestin and continues into Okaloosa County around Henderson Beach State Park in Destin.

    Dredging sand and building a beach is nothing magical. It will be eroded just like any other beach from storms. That is part of the fuss. Meaning it is a temporary solution and must be repeated as necessary at great expense. Still I agree with Dave and it is probably the best compromise if people are going to continue to live on the beach. Once you allow a beach to be developed, government and society says there exists an obligation to protect life and property there.

    As far as buying up the properties and creating more public park, it seems we have decided we have more important things to do with our money. For example - the wars on drugs and terror are extremely important and effective at reducing the number of drugs and terrorists don't you think? :roll:

    You don't even have to start talking about $300 hammers or bridges to nowhere.
     
  17. Shutters

    Shutters Beach Comber

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    The irony is we are attempting to protect those lives and property with little regard for the single element that brought them there. The beach and its longevity.

    Oh don't get me started brother. You're preaching to the choir.
    Unfortunately we have a government that is reactive, not proactive. And a society that wants the best, but only if they can buy it at 40% off.
     
  18. Rita

    Rita margarita brocolia

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    My sentiments too, Kurt & Shutters!
     
  19. Seasider

    Seasider Beach Lover

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    I understand that the beach needs 50 yards of depth and 10 years between hurricanes to allow the dunes to rebuild naturally.
     
  20. sdavis

    sdavis Beach Comber

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    I am not a tax and spend guy, but maybe the county and state should think long term, and set aside some of the property taxes from the beach front homes (and maybe a little extra tax on those homes) to plan on defraying some of the cost of dredging and rebuilding the beaches when these big events occur. The dredging after Opal was temporary for 10 years, and needs to be redone. These property values are high because they are gulf front. If there are no houses or lots, there will be No taxes.

    The cost for these likely temporary seawalls ain't cheap (currently more than 4 years of equivalent property taxes for a wooden wall alone for every 75' lot). I am a beach front owner, and would like nothing more than to renourish the beach and rebuld the erosion instead of spending the money on the seawalls. Hell, new steps alone already cost enough.

    It is going to have to be one way or the other. It would seem like some private/public partnership like that would make everyone happy. Am I crazy?
     

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