Working Breakwaters

by C. S. Hardaway, Jr., Assoc. Marine Scientist; Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucster Point, VA,
J. R. Gunn, Pres.; Coastal Design and Construction, Gloucester, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 10, Pg. 64-66

Document Type: Feature article


Along the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay, shoreline erosion has erased about 40,000 acres of land since 1850. Now a series of headland breakwater systems stems erosion up and down the bay without harming habitats or starving nearby beaches. Headland breakwaters have an environmental edge over many traditional methods of shoreline management. In combination with beach fill and marsh plantings, they not only abate shoreline erosion, but collect nutrient-laden runoff from farms and lawns. Successful examples of these systems dot the Chesapeake Bay. In the early 1980s, as Virginia grew, several local developers and public agencies asked the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Gloucester Point, Va. for help in protecting private property and public beaches. VIMS, along with Coastal Design and Construction, Gloucester, Va. designed and constructed 11 inland breakwater systems. Their cost per foot shore is competitive with stone revetments and bulkheads. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers also built a system at Colonial Beach, Va. In all, there are 31 breakwater units and 32 pocket beaches throughout Chesapeake Bay.

Subject Headings: Coastal protection structures | Breakwaters | Beaches | Bays | Shoreline protection | Erosion | Management methods

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