Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fairhope Beach Report Completed

Fairhope, Alabama

Magnolia Beach Park today (eroding north end)


During the final of two public input meetings last week, engineers Beau Buhring and Dr. Scott Douglas of South Coast Engineers, LLc. presented the results of a nine month study of the causes of sand erosion from Fairhope's beaches -- and the recommended solutions.
Beau Buhring, engineer

Buring found that sand was being lost due to both wind-blown and water-driven wave erosion all along the beaches; but particularly at the northern end of Magnolia Beach near the Pier Street boat ramp -- and to a lesser extent the extreme north end of the North Beach (duck pond area).

Shifting seasonal winds, generally from the north in cooler months and south in warmer ones, generate waves that shift the sand back-and-forth along the beaches accordingly.

The sand generally remains in the area or offshore in the closed "littoral cell system" however.

Sand is being lost and blown directly off of the beaches by wind to inland areas year round.


ca. 2013

Historical sources of sand replenishment from gullies, streams and bluffs have been cut off by erosion control measures enacted since the 1960s, he said.

The rising global sea level producing a corresponding rise of Mobile Bay is also a factor for the increased wave erosion.


Buhring said that efforts to preserve the beaches and protect the Magnolia Beach bluff have been ongoing for over ten years, mainly by periodic sand replenishment, planting new vegetation,  and the installation of the timber headland structure just south of the Pier Street boat ramp in 2005 that was intended to protect the city's pumping station/restrooms/trees in the adjacent park.

In 2014, 3,300 cubic yards of sand was added south of the boat ramp and earlier this year 900 more applied in the same place.
Dr. Douglas

Based on this new study, there is now an annual need for sand replenishment; the added sand is not being lost, its replenishes the beach to the south down to the American Legion, Buhring added.

North Beach (duck pond area) sand was replenished after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 using FEMA disaster recovery funding. (No additional replenishment is being recommended there for now)


Magnolia Beach plan

*Design a "pocket beach system" with two parallel breakwaters (rocks) out in the bay: needed to slow down erosion at the north end of Magnolia Beach Park.  Each structure would have to be about 100' long and extend about 4' above the water's surface.

*Adopt a minimum beach template ( a beach blueprint) to streamline the restoration process and qualify for disaster relief (FEMA)

*Start annual (or bi-annual) monitoring surveys to "inform replenishment decisions."
north beach park erosion too

*Plant additional vegetation to stabilize the eroding bluff at Magnolia Beach/reduce windblown sand erosion at North Beach.  "Develop wide, flat beaches."


Some citizens present asked about the project's effect on adjacent private property, the type vegetation to be used, the cost, and if the small beach at the yacht club would be affected.

Public Works Department director Fidler expressed concern about additional sand building up and blocking the adjacent Pier St. boat ramp: extension of the headland structure may be necessary.

Find the whole Fairhope Beach Management Plan Report here - click.

Buhring, Jennifer Fidler

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given that the water in the Bay is so polluted and as a result virtually no one that lives in Fairhope uses the beach or swims in the Bay perhaps Fairhope should look for better uses for its funds instead of wasting money constantly rebuilding a beach that almost no Fairhope citizens use.