ONLY AS A LAST RESORT: Flood and Erosion Control Structures

Sometimes protecting coastal shorelines includes structural projects like seawalls, groins, rip-rap, and levees. As understanding of natural shoreline function improves, there is a growing awareness that structural solutions have caused many problems. Structural protective measures:

  • Are often expensive.
  • Aren’t permanent, and may require costly maintenance to ensure that they continue to provide protection.
  • Can divert stormwater and waves onto other properties.
  • May create a false sense of security.
  • Can disturb the land and disrupt natural water flows.

Structural protection should only be considered as a last resort, knowing that it will be an ongoing expense and may increase overall damage to land, buildings, and other structures within the natural system. Whenever structural protection is pursued, hybrid technology (such as combinations of low-profile rock, cobble berms, and vegetative planting, or combinations of marsh plantings and coconut fiber rolls) should be considered as a means of reducing the negative impacts of the structure.