As hurricane season approaches, many community associations, golf courses, and municipalities are still reeling from the flooding and dangerous shoreline erosion that resulted from last year’s vicious storms throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast states, and Texas.
It appears as though this erosion will be more the norm than the exception in the coming years. In recent weeks, we’ve seen cities along the New England coast battered by nor’easters shattering sea walls, leaving towns unprotected. Likewise, forest fires in California have destroyed trees and root systems resulting in massive mudslides.
While we can’t predict when these natural disasters will occur, we can take precautions to minimize damage in the event of a storm. In addition, it’s important to repair these shorelines with a variety of cost-effective measures.
First, let’s take a look at the effects of storms and the accompanying water-level fluctuations causing erosion:
• Homes are flooding as backyards fall into canals and rivers. Some homes are falling into waterways.
• Once stable land along waterways is collapsing, creating dangerous conditions for people accustomed to walking in their backyards or in parks. Likewise, the collapsed land is unsafe for maintenance and landscape workers using heavy equipment.
• Many of these situations are magnified along golf courses, where many players and workers have sustained injuries.
• In many cases, cable and electrical lines are left exposed resulting in costly repairs to cities and community associations.
Now is the time for Florida associations, golf courses, and municipalities to assess the damage wreaked by last year’s hurricanes. It’s important to take a look at shorelines from the water to assess actual damage. From this vantage point, you’ll likely see how water has encroached under the turf, a condition which also can result in burrowing animals (otters, fish, etc.) causing further de-stabilization of the land.
As concern for the environment increases, there have also been several innovations which are aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly, and quite affordable. These alternatives are increasingly being considered as some municipalities have banned seawalls as being too intrusive and expensive to replace.
There are many products claiming to be affordable, environmentally safe, and long-lasting. Unfortunately, these solutions frequently disappoint in rebuilding and restoring eroded shorelines. Associations and municipalities are urged to do their homework when considering methods of shoreline restoration.
They should consider the environment, longevity of the repair, safety and time the installation takes.
If the proper product is installed the benefits are significant. For example:
• Newly sodded and restored shorelines serve as a filter, preventing excess phosphates and nitrates from entering the waterways. This, in turn, provides better habitats for fish and wildlife.
• From an aesthetic standpoint, these waterways are now able to sustain vibrant, native plant life which offers better views than collapsed land filled with mud and algae.
• Once installed, these products actually save municipalities, associations, and golf courses a significant amount of money because they are long-lasting solutions.
• Flood prevention
Waterfront property has great value and those in charge of maintenance should accept the inevitability of shoreline erosion. Property management firms, association directors, and golf course superintendents are advised to maintain these shorelines with the same care and vigilance that is exercised with other amenities.