FL - 'Living shoreline solutions' could make nourishment a thing of the past, engineers tell Pinellas beach leaders
MADEIRA BEACH — Shoreline protection has traditionally been accomplished through what Jack Cox calls “brute force.”
Miles-long steel breakwaters. Concrete barriers. The dredging of tons of sand or, in a Pinellas County ritual, depositing sand from the depths back onto the beach.
Cox’s company, Edgewater Resources, is among a new group of coastal engineering experts thinking differently.
“We started exploring the idea of a really fundamental question: What is a breakwater?” he told a group of beach city mayors at a recent meeting of the Barrier Islands Governmental Council, or BIG-C. “We all have visions of piles of rock or walls built high or concrete caissons. But we said no. A breakwater is something we can put out there to change the wave environment. However we choose to change the wave environment, we are free to work with. There is no constraint to say we can’t make something that looks like an island, maybe change the shape of the bottom. We allow all the variables we can play with.”
Those so-called “living shoreline solutions” can create sustainable shorelines by emulating nature. They can involve man-made islands, bottom structures, or geometric features added to jetties or breakwaters to steer wave currents away from destructive behavior.
Cox was invited to discuss new innovations with the beach mayors as they once again struggle with hurdles jeopardizing a $45 million beach nourishment effort scheduled for the Pinellas beaches in 2024. Indian Shores Mayor Patrick Soranno saw an Edgewater presentation at a recent meeting of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, and told fellow mayors the talk “lit me up like a Christmas tree.”