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A case study on the effects of coastal engineering structures and beach restoration methods after storms, Westhampton Beach, Long Island, New York

By
Nicholas K. Coch
Nicholas K. Coch
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College, City University New York, Flushing, New York 11367, USA, and Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences, City University Graduate School and University Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10036, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2009

Westhampton Beach is located between two stabilized inlets (Shinnecock and Moriches Inlets) on a barrier island on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Increasing beach erosion in the 1970s prompted a request for construction of a groin field to trap sand and restore the beach. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a plan for the groin field, and their recommendation was to sequentially build the groins up drift (eastward toward Shinnecock Inlet) using standard project design. However, in the late 1970s, local community pressure forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contrary to project design, to construct the groins down drift (westward) toward Moriches Inlet. The aim was to restore the eastern, more commercial, part of Westhampton Beach first. Financial limitations in 1972 suspended the project before its completion. Unfortunately, this set the stage for serious problems because the groin field was meant to operate as a completed project, and major problems developed soon after project termination. As a result, severe erosion and multiple washovers occurred west of the last groin. The major nor'easter of 1992 breached the island and destroyed many homes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in an emergency operation, dredged offshore sand and filled the breaches before they widened too much for effective closure. The subsequent litigation among the homeowners, the county, and the state spread over a number of years. A final settlement was reached on 31 October 1994. However, in a time of sea-level rise on a developed barrier island between two stabilized inlets, more people and bigger structures have now been put in peril.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

America's Most Vulnerable Coastal Communities

Joseph T. Kelley
Joseph T. Kelley
University of Maine, Department of Earth Sciences, Orono, Maine, USA
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Orrin H. Pilkey
Orrin H. Pilkey
Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
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J. Andrew
J. Andrew
Centre for Coastal and Marine Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
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G. Cooper
G. Cooper
Centre for Coastal and Marine Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
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Geological Society of America
Volume
460
ISBN print:
9780813724607
Publication date:
January 01, 2009

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