I’m not a big fan of Sea Walls (But what do I know)


I’m no engineer or geomorphologist, so I am not entirely sure what’s best for Long Beach storm surge protection. I am surprised, however, how most people are quick to say that a sea wall is our only option. Within the next several months, the battle of dunes & sea walls will heat up. Some will say dunes are just a temporary fix that will constantly need to be replenished. But what about a sea wall? Is it really the best way to protect our Civitas ad Mare?

Here are a few reasons why I’m not sold on them:

1. Beach Erosion.

Seawalls may accelerate erosion of the adjacent, unprotected coastal areas because they affect the littoral drift process (source).

Ok, I have no idea what littoral drift process means, but I do know some basic physics. Think of Newtons Third Law of Motion:


When a first body exerts a force F1 on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F2 = −F1 on the first body. This means that F1 and F2 are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

In other words: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions. (See photo of what Sandy did to the boardwalk next to a wall.)

The ocean smashing against a sea wall will cause MAJOR beach erosion. Of course, who cares about the beach if it means our homes are protected, right? But what about this next issue:

2. Turning Long Beach into a Bathtub. If we build a ten foot sea wall, what happens with an eleven foot wave? Where will the water recede? Please don’t say the bay! Speaking of the bay, do we build a sea wall around the entire Island? No, because then Long Beach is a bathrub! (Think Katrina)

A seawall would most likely protect us from 99% of the storms, but this bathtub-thing scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to be that guy on my roof flagging down helicopters.


3. Graffiti.  Yes, It’s ridiculous to put beauty over protection, but THE GREAT WALL OF LONG BEACH lining our beach will be prone to graffiti. That is a guarantee and there will be no stopping it. We will paint over the stupid tag-lines here and there, but before you know it, the Great Wall of Long Beach will be pretty damn ugly with all those paint patches.

That’s all I can think of right now. What do you guys think? Any to add or dismiss? Discuss.

Please read the terms of service before you comment.


21 thoughts on “I’m not a big fan of Sea Walls (But what do I know)”

  1. Personally I want the wall under the boardwalk only and dunes in front. I don’t want the seawall to be built around the whole island.

  2. Why do you think it won’t drain into the bay? Say the seawall is 10ft (same high as boardwalk now I think?), and the water overflows it and leaves 5ft of water in LB. Naturally the bulk of the standing water would drain off the bay side once the tide recedes. The remaining water (maybe a foot deep??) would drain out our sewers as the tide and water table are then lowered. Many people had sewer overflow before sea water actually reached their houses with Sandy.

  3. Correct we don’t want to be a bathtub… and when people mention dunes related to this discussion, they need to realize it’s not just a pile of sand like the temporary ones currently built. They are vegetated dunes like exist in the west end. That being said I don’t see a sea wall (with boardwalk on top) and dunes being built at the same location as the vegetation would block the view.

  4. Andrew, what happens if the water breeches the seawall? That’s my point. I do believe they will do a job protecting us, I’m just worried about the bathtub effect.

  5. I do too! My issue is that they are approaching it the wrong way by making the replacement of the boardwalk the top priority. There has been no mention of anything other than boardwalk replacement (and by this summer so they can collect beach fees!) by our City Council.

  6. well, i mean have it breech the wall on the ocean side and drain on the bay side… it doesn’t address the flooding issues.

    Actually, more inlets would probably be better. Did you know there used to be a small inlet on the east end of LB – I think where neptune blvd is now. I’m going back like 100 years.. haha.

  7. True, but I also wonder if it has to do with the DEP. We are “replacing” the boardwalk, but a sea wall / dune would have to be approved by the department of environmental protection. You can’t just build new structures on the beach without their approval. Maybe that is why the boardwalk rebuild and storm protections are two separate things.

  8. Yeah, i don’t think it’s possible to completely stop flooding considering where we live. I agree we don’t want to become a bathtub either, personally I rather have a wall on the ocean side to prevent the beating from the waves and deal with the bay side separately.

    I’ve heard that too but that it was between the West End and East Atlantic Beach… maybe the Historical Society has old maps?

  9. Good point… even more so why I think they should have the Army Corp of Engineers involved already since they do this for a living and have worked that issue in the past 🙂 It goes perfectly with the petition you posted last week.

    I wonder what will happen with the lifeguard HQ… the supports are still there so does it count as a new structure?

  10. My understanding if FEMA builds it then we are looking at less than a year for a new boardwalk… Army could take 3-5years.. Not sure if that is true, this is LB home to many rumors

  11. where do you think rain water goes? it will drain out those drains you see on the street that say “drains to the bay”. at least that is my contention and understanding.

  12. If we had a 10 ft seawall and got 14-17 ft waves such as we had with Sandy the water would not drain back out as quickly because it would have to find the drainage holes, which would likely be sand clogged. Fortunately the flooding abated with the tide or things here would have been significantly worse.

  13. I was told that Arvene the new developemrnt in Rockaway had significantly less flooding than the immediate areas around it because new drainage methods were employed i the construction

  14. Littoral drift is simply the sand moving sideways.here it’s generally east to west. Why not a storm barrier of sufficient height south of the boardwalk, covered with sand, properly vegetated, and maintained so the dune grows southward. The barrier can be built so it can open in places to let any water drain out.

  15. The Water The flooded the homes first was from filled up storm drains. A Wall, and (Hate to say it, because my name on the Patch is MrDunes) Dunes won’t do anything to confront water overflowing from storm drains especially during a lunar tide for low elevation homes.
    The Lido Towers HAD a concrete sea wall, That sea wall broke, it blew into pieces some Went Through my friends home south of the towers. The Dunes also did as much as they could to protect the lido Towers, however their low elevation unfortunately rendered them vulnerable to breaching waters. The Entire Foundation of what I believe is the largest man made concrete structure on the barrier island was moved off its foundation (according to an occupant of the lido Towers).

    The last three streets that were developed on this entire barrier island were Saratoga St. Kensington St. and Prescott St. These were developed in the late 1970’s. These three streets have the highest elevations of the entire barrier island. NONE OF THE HOUSES On These Three Streets had Flood damage to their homes.
    Implementing a prevention strategy of combined management elements of higher elevations and dunes will do extremely well in removing potential liability away from inhabitant’s valuables.

Comments are closed.