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10/1/2008 - David Mower

In a front page article I discussed housing developments planned for the Kilmarnock area. One of the more intriguing developments is focused on Bluff Point where a Charlottesville develop has quietly acquired over 1,000 acres in the past few years. A large chunk of this is fronted on the Chesapeake Bay and experiences very aggressive erosion problems.

Over the last 2 decades various developers have successively purchased the acreage of Bluff Point with the intent to develop the property. Each has faced the problem of controlling the Bay-side erosion problem. During this period, and despite various attempts, Bluff Point shoreline has lost approximately 100 yards facing the bay. Consequently I have seen this parcel on the market listed as 400 acres, 350 acres and most recently 300 acres. Maps drawn by Captain John Smith during his explorations in the 1600’s show this parcel over 1 mile more extended bayward. That, folks, is a serious erosion problem.

Previously attempts have included the use of old tires to trap sand on the beach and a breakwater of boulders. The tires didn’t work and are still found scattered all over the property, while the boulders were too small for the job and are now a feeble, broken line of about 100 yards off shore.

Recently the Northern Neck Buyers Guide ran an article on a new shoreline erosion control system that caught my interest. It seems that a whole new generation of shoreline erosion control systems are now being marketed. Locally, Seament Shoreline Systems, Inc.  appears to be leading the way with an fascinating variety of erosion control options. No longer is it old tires, wood groins, or large rocks.

According to Seament Shoreline Systems, their system “uses precast concrete components for site specific solutions to preserving, utilizing, and beautifying waterfront properties. They can prevent erosion, provide better access from the land to the water, and create an attractive, stabilized, accreted beach. The concrete components don't require harmful chemicals to extend their useful life.”

Here are just some of the types of shoreline control components they make available.


L-Wall

SeaBoxes

SeaLogs

Groins

"T"-Wall

Hexagon

Box

Seament Shorelines Solutions has been using these products in various project along the Potomac, Rappahannock and York Rivers.  You can view their project portfolio on line.  After searching the Internet for other solutions providers, it seems that Seament is almost alone in this area.  Here are two other companies working on the problem, but they don't seem to have the range of products being offered by Seament.


Whisper Wave

Reef Ball

Wave Dispersion Technologies, Inc. (WDT) developed the WhisprWave® floating articulated breakwater erosion / wave and wake control technology to afford protection to marinas, beaches, and private property subject to destructive or annoying wave / wake forces.

Reef Ball Foundation provides "Reef Balls."  Reef Balls can be used as submerged breakwaters to protect a beach from erosion or even to build up a beach that has already eroded.  They can also be used in a variety of erosion control applications such as creating a wave fence for marinas or as red mangrove "pots" for shoreline stabilization.  Shorelines can also be stabilized using Reef Balls as a near shore breakwater or to grow oysters to create a protective near shore oyster bar.  However, all these applications for Reef Balls require specific engineering because erosion control requires detailed, site specific planning, to avoid unexpected results.

Shoreline erosion control technology appears to be making big strides in recent years.  Quite possibily Bluff Point could reclaim some of that missing 1/2 mile of acreage from the Bay through the use of these new products. 

PS:  Seament subsequently provided these photos of its HEX system.


Hex Box on the Beach


Hex Box System Installed


Hex Box System Breaking Wave Action


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