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Living Breakwaters Construction Update - May 2022


As of May, the Contractor for Living Breakwaters finished placing all the ecologically-enhanced concrete units (i.e. “ECOncrete units”) and most all of the armor stone for Breakwater ‘A’, which can now be observed from the shore, especially at low tide. GOSR representatives have had opportunities to walk on the breakwater with the Contractor to observe the work done so far. The Contractor is working to make final adjustments to the placement of armor stone and ECOncrete units. The Navigation Aid Light Posts will be the last elements to be installed on Breakwater ‘A’ which is expected to be complete this summer. The Contractor will soon begin to place stone at Breakwater ‘B’, located east of Breakwater ‘A’.

Production of ecologically-enhanced concrete units at Jersey Precast (in Trenton, NJ) and stone at Carver Quarry (in Johnstown, NY) is also ongoing.

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How do the Living Breakwaters build beaches?

​The Living Breakwaters are designed to reduce or reverse erosion throughout the project site. This is a significant and important risk reduction function of the project because without intervention, the beach would continue to be lost to the combined effects of erosion and sea level rise. Eroded beaches lose their ability to support activities and leave on-shore assets more vulnerable to coastal risks.

The primary function of breakwaters is to break waves prior to reaching the beach and reduce their energy. This reduced wave action also slows the transport of sediment along the shoreline, also known as “long-shore sediment transport”. Slower sediment movement helps prevent sand from being lost “down-drift” (the destination of long-shore transports) therefore stabilizing or even growing the beach behind breakwaters.

If waves are reduced too much and an excess of sediment is being trapped behind a breakwater, a “tombolo” may form, connecting the breakwater to the shoreline. In contrast, the Living Breakwaters Project creates a “salient” formation, which is a condition where the breakwaters cause some beach growth behind them but still allow for long-shore transport to continue. Maintaining slower sediment movement reduces the risk of erosion down-drift and allows important shoreline processes to continue.

Images: Shoreline change scenarios (below), Tottenville shoreline (left)

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Tuesday, May 31, 2022