Saturday, January 05, 2008

Scientists: no exceptions to seawall ban needed

North Carolina has a law banning the use of “groins” (often known as jetties), man-made devices that reach out into the ocean from the beach. These are often used to prevent erosion of beach sand. However, they are very destructive to beaches “down drift”, that is, further down the beach in the direction of the prevailing current.

Because of the destructive nature of groins the General Assembly prohibited their use (G.S 113A-115.1). However, Ocean Isle Beach and Figure Eight Island homeowners are trying to change the law that would allow exceptions to be made. They claim the exception would be experimental and would establish a “pilot project” to study the use of groins.

A bill (SB 599) has passed the NC Senate to allow exceptions to be made by the Coastal Resources Commission to the anti-groin rule. This would allow, with conditions, groins to be built to protect some beach areas from erosion. The bill will be considered by the House in this year’s “short session”.

A report recently issued by a scientific study group argues against the change. According to the report, there is nothing experimental about groins. The proposed change would require that groins be monitored and removed if damage results from the groin. The report points out that it may take many years for groin impacts to become apparent. By the time they become apparent, removal of the groin will be too late to prevent damage to other areas.

The report, signed by 43 academic and other scientists, can be found at:

John Shaw