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Nicholas Tarantino, O.D., Capistrano Beach
I continue to be disappointed by letters from well-meaning people who believe that beach erosion can be managed by employing techniques such as placing low-level sea walls, boulders in front of structures and importing sand to our beaches while either disregarding or not spending the time to research the work of experts who have spent considerable time studying the complexities and dynamics that lead to beach erosion. Experts in coastal and marine geology agree that sea level rise is inevitable with the current trends in climate change with increasing storm severity and frequency. There is repeated evidence that building seawalls may protect property from damaging storm waves for a few years, but could end up doing more harm than good.
According to Stephen Leatherman, Ph.D. (environmental (coastal) sciences from the University of Virginia) of the National Healthy Beaches Campaign, “Bulkheads and seawalls may accelerate beach erosion by reflecting wave energy off the facing wall, impacting adjacent property owners as well,” adding “that such structures along retreating shorelines eventually cause diminished beach width and even loss.”
Beach replenishment (dredging) may have a better track record but is prohibitively expensive and a temporary solution at best.
What was particularly disconcerting was a recent letter, which seemed to indicate that a strategy of “managed retreat” is an implied governmental conspiracy to illegally seize property without compensation to the owner. Let’s reject fear mongering and let people who understand these complex issues help our state and cities develop strategies to manage our coast line and the inherent beauty of this exceptional community where we all live.
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