Sustainable NE Seattle

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Sustainable New Ways to Fight Beach Erosion

All over the world we are confronted with rising sea levels and more frequent hurricanes and tropical storms. We will see more heavy rains and low lying regions and coastal areas will get seriously affected by flooding. Rising sea levels and current action will allow waves to reach further on to our beaches, and our fragile beach and dunes systems cannot always cope with these forces and have no time to adjust. This is when beach erosion will occur, and we will have to protect ourselves and our fragile coastal systems against this devastating phenomenon.

We were used to protect our fragile shoreline systems by building sea defense constructions such as offshore breakwaters, seawalls or rock revetments. However, over the last decades more sustainable and more efficient systems have been developed to protect our coast from erosion. Of course the traditional applications have their positive contributions, but today we can find new, more sustainable and highly effective methods to protect ourselves and our vulnerable beaches from the effects of climate change.

Protective construction elements to prevent erosion were traditionally manufactured from concrete or steel, but a far more ecological friendly solution is the application of so-called geotubes. These are containers fabricated with very strong geotextile that form a sustainable and cost-effective solution for shoreline protection and several other dewatering situations. The geotube containers (massive cylinders made of Geotextile) are filled with sand and gravel at the installation site so there will be no need for transportation of debris and sand, and all around the US you now can find projects where geotubes are installed to protect fragile shorelines. Geotextile was created by Dutch Technology company TenCate after the disastrous flooding of Holland in 1953 to protect the country from ever getting flooded again.

As we all will remember very well, last October the Eastern Seaboard of the US was severely damaged by superstorm Sandy, and the geotubes that had been installed in Ocean City, NJ, for shoreline protection proved to be the best protective system and the town’s beaches were hardly damaged. Now many coastal towns such as Brick and Mantoloking discuss the installation of this new and sustainable protection system to prevent future damage. 


The infographic below explains why and how the geotextile was created: 


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