Friday, November 2, 2012

Water’s Edge: Is your shoreline home or business in harm’s way?

by Curt Hart, communcations manager, Shorelines and Environmental Assistance Program

People have always been drawn to the water’s edge.

Hurricane Sandy’s devastation is a heartbreaking reminder that living near a lake, stream, river or Washington’s marine waters can come at the extreme cost of life and property. Knowing where erosion and high water may happen – and placing homes, roads, and businesses out of harm’s way – is the first step in avoiding costly losses.

Shoreline master programs help protect homes, structures

In Washington, most cities and counties have shoreline master programs that manage new uses and activities in hazard areas like floodplains, steep slopes, and landslide zones.

Local shoreline programs use buffers, setbacks and minimum lot sizes tailored to local conditions, which help place development a safe distance from the water’s edge.
A buffer that seems large in calm weather can disappear quickly in a winter storm or flood.

Being prepared for natural disasters like floods is wise and residents should prepare. Reducing the overall risk through land use planning is even wiser.

Choose carefully when buying or building a shoreline home or business

These tips can help:

Consider soft armoring for existing homes or businesses at risk

This information can prove invaluable:
  • Bulkheads, rip rap and other hard armoring are not always the best solution to protecting property unless it’s in immediate danger. Hard armoring redirects waves and currents to neighboring properties, sending the danger from one property to another. In some locations, softer alternatives – called ‘green shorelines’ – may protect property while working with natural site conditions.
  • Contact a qualified geo-engineer to determine whether hazards exist on your property.
  • If you own a farm or agricultural property, contact your local conservation district to get technical advice and possible funding to fix erosion problems.

For more information

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