Iowa Court after construction repaired damages from Superstorm Sandy. – T&M ASSOCIATES

NJ - How living shorelines can restore communities damaged by severe weather events

Since Superstorm Sandy devastated communities all over the state, storm resilience and shoreline restoration have become top priorities for shore towns and low-lying areas. But this process is difficult, largely because of limited resources and varying landscape challenges. Municipalities have to weigh parallel goals of repairing damage from past storms and strengthening infrastructure for future disasters, almost always with significant budget restrictions. It is not unheard of for a storm resiliency project to employ more short-term solutions due to financial constraints, even if doing so leads to greater damages and costs down the line. Meanwhile, the most efficient solutions may be untenable because of the physical setting limitations of a given town or city.

As a result, shoreline and storm protection projects can benefit greatly from innovative new methods that meet community needs while doing more with fewer resources. To this end, T&M Associates, has found success with a living shoreline model to combat erosion, restore and stabilize beaches, establish and strengthen natural habitats and protect existing infrastructure and homes, all while remaining cost-effective for municipalities. In the coming years we can expect to see living shorelines become more commonplace as an effective strategy for storm protection, flood mitigation and combatting shoreline erosion.

Previously this approach could only do so much within a narrow set of conditions.

The living shoreline model has existed for some time but has had limited application in certain landscapes. When faced with an exceptionally challenging project, T&M was able to incorporate some new elements that made it significantly more viable for a wider array of New Jersey shore habitats and communities. As the adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Little Egg Harbor Township and the Borough of Tuckerton had struggled to recover from Superstorm Sandy and years of shoreline erosion due to some unique landscape challenges in the waterfront areas of Iowa Court and South Green Street, including greater elevation and mean higher high water line and close proximity to residential areas that required additional protection. Using a traditional bulkhead, a popular and relatively inexpensive approach, would not adequately address wave action and could increase the risk of scouring, or shift risk to adjacent property owners.

Read the full story here.

Don't forget to check out our pod with Jason Fox on using vetiver grass to stabilize shorelines.