Monday, March 20, 2006

Two Connecticut Legislators Want to Spend (or is it Waste?) $300,000 to Try to Stop Beach Erosion

Traditionally, one of the best ways for a government to waste money has been to try to stop beach erosion. But because some Long Island Sound beaches have been losing sand to the waves and the tides, and probably to rising sea level, two Connecticut legislators want to spend $300,000 to study the currents off Fairfield and design underwater structures that they think will stop erosion and replenish the beaches.

One of the Legislators, by the way, is House Speaker James Amann, who late last year said Connecticut lawmakers decided to cut funding for the Sound cleanup because the issue wasn’t sexy enough for them.

But Amann, who is from Milford, and a colleague of his named Thomas Drew, who represents Stratford, contend that they can save the eroding beaches. The want to begin to study the construction of

underwater "speed bumps" to retain sand and fight erosion from the waves. …

At best, the interlocking concrete-filled, fingerlike devices, which could stretch 200 to 600 feet into Long Island Sound, could rebuild beaches that have steadily lost sand over the past half-century, Drew and Amann believe.

I’ve never heard of these beach-rebuilding devices (no surprise there) and I guess there’s a chance that they represent a new and effective technology.

The Connecticut Post story though is overly credulous and doesn’t even raise the issue of the historical futility of fighting beach erosion. It also quotes, without an ounce of skepticism, an assertion by Drew that I will consider to be dubious at best until proven otherwise:

"Reversing beach erosion also reverses the ecological damage that this erosion has caused," Drew said. "This will essentially, by reversing the beach erosion, revive our fishing industries and it will clean the water."

Fighting beach erosion will help clean up Long Island Sound? A statement like that should have been followed with a simple question: What are you talking about?


Blogger esker said...

Hi Tom:

I haven't seen your book but will check it out soon. I am a former coastal zone management regulator. I now blog about environmental and economic subjects.

I just loved this reference of yours:underwater "speed bumps" to retain sand and fight erosion from the waves. …. I never heard of them either.

My blog is at:

The article: Sand Castles refers to a recent erosion event at Plum Island, Massachusetts.

7:05 PM  

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