By Dez Duran-Lamanilao
Image source: SBS
One of the biggest risks coastal properties face is coastal erosion, which results in the shoreline moving toward the land as cliffs are pulled back or as beach and dune systems change locations. When this occurs, roads, residential and commercial buildings, and other coastal infrastructures run the risk of being damaged or in worst cases, even destroyed.
While coastal erosion is a natural process, the fact remains that it poses a threat and may result to economic losses. In the US, coastal erosion contributes to around $500 million yearly in coastal property loss. The US Climate Resilience Toolkit outlines some of the most popular non-structural methods for controlling erosion. The reason why states are shifting toward non-structural alternatives is because structural solutions may affect natural water currents and may deter beach replenishment in the process.
The non-structural strategies mentioned include:
- Beach replenishment – dredging of sand from offshore and dumping it on the beach so the latter is protected
- Dune protection and improvement – will absorb the impact of storm surge and high waves, thus delaying or forestalling the flooding of inland areas
- Wetland protection: A study that appeared in the “Journal of Environmental Economics and Management” tried to place a value on wetlands for their part in reducing wind damage to property resulting from diminished storm intensities.
- Habitat restoration – protects and depending on the condition, restores the ecosystems and habitats in the environment
- Structure relocation and debris removal: There may be cases that would require the relocation of your property. This is especially true for houses that are built on minimum required setbacks, since these do not provide enough protection from damage and loss because of erosion. Note that permits are required for this solution.
- Use of dredged material for beach nourishment: They can be replaced into beach zones to improve or create new beaches and recreational spaces. Beach nourishment is quite popular along the ocean costs since good quality beach sand is usually hard to find.
- Sandbags – for temporary protection while the owners are seeking for more permanent solutions
Having a better understanding of coastal erosion is the key in protecting your property from the damages inflicted by such. Talk to an expert and find out if your structure faces imminent threats so you can act fast before the soil even begins to erode.