Seawalls as Folly

It has recently been reported that Seaside Heights and Belmar are proposing seawalls to protect their communities. I have been studying the environment for many years and I am amazed at the folly of people when it comes to their thoughts on dealing with a dynamic system like the ocean.

More than twenty years ago Mr. Derry Bennett of the American Littoral Society who passed away in 2009 made a comment that I have always remembered. I am certain that this is a paraphrased recollection, but essentially he said that you cannot control a dynamic system (the ocean) with a static structure.

If you need proof of this, take a look at Sea Bright….look at the towns with jetties…and the damage caused by those jetties.

Seawalls cause wave action to accelerate erosion of beaches. The only way that Seabright has been able to maintain itself over the years is with massive government subsidies in the form of beach replenishment. Why, because the sea wall causes increases in erosion of the beaches.

Seawall to prevent disaster

You see, Derry was right.

Now that we are rebuilding from Sandy, we seem to forget the lessons of the past.

Need further proof? Take a look right down the road from Seaside at Island Beach State Park. Sure there was damage, but it was far less than the damage incurred in Seaside or any other community.

In part the lower level of damage was the result of a dynamic system (natural dunes) working with a dynamic system (the ocean).

I guess this quote still holds true:
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein

One thought on “Seawalls as Folly

  1. And another factor – Construction/Housing the barrier islands are there to protect the mainland not to be built on. Consider what the damage would have been if the barrier island(s) from Sandy Hook sloth to LBI was all just like Island Beach State Park – beach & dunes and an occasional pavilion. Yep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, Is Insanity

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