Walls don’t last forever.
When enough sand is washed away in front of the dam, the wall will fall forward or otherwise collapse, Meadows added. Aerial photographs of Lake Michigan show streaks of sunken structures once built to protect the coastline. Now they hide under water as a danger to people and wild animals.
Richard Norton noted that coastline residents are fixated on one concept as he encourages them to consider lake level when planning: the lakeside property they own today will look completely different in 30 years.
“For the beach to remain the same, it must change. It must be able to move, shift, grow and decrease over time as the lake rises and falls as conditions change, ”said Norton, professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. “This is a paradox of beach dynamics.”
According to him, the reinforcement of the coastline is trying to “tie” to the exact location, disrupting the natural movement of sand and, possibly, losing the beach.
“You can save the beach or you can save the beach house. You can’t save both, ”Norton said. “In part, I’m asking the local authorities so that you have more authority to act through your zoning than you think,” Norton said.
For cities and towns, this can mean accepting and enforcing failures, or revising plans every 5 to 20 years as the coastline moves over time. For homeowners, this may require physically moving homes away from the coastline – an expensive process, Norton admitted, but often no more costly than building and repairing large sea dams. Some landowners have changed their homes several times, he said.