Explainer: Three ways to keep your ocean front town from drowning


Everyone knows that you pay more for a hotel room on the beach. The view is to die for and no more schlepping your beach umbrellas five blocks. 

That great privilege comes at a hidden cost. Someone has to make sure the ocean does erode the beach your hotel is standing on. With nearly all of New Jersey’s 127 miles of coastline developed, protecting these hotels, homes and beaches has become an economic necessity. According to the 2011 Tourism Economic Impact Study, the four shore counties – Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean, and Monmouth – made up more than half of the State’s tourism direct sales.

Recently NJ Spotlight looked at three of the most common strategies used to protect shore towns. 

1) Dunes

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2) Sea walls

3) Beach replenishment

In a recent conversation with reporter Scott Gurian, who wrote about the shore protection measures, he told me that while all three have their strong points they also some downsides. 

For instance, Gurian says dunes are great because they absorb the wave’s energy but also get whittled down in the process. Also, they have a fairly large footprint if done right, which makes  less room for a nice house. 

Sea walls are like a castle wall for waves, but the energy from the smashing wave gets dispersed and you might see more erosion where the walls end.

Beach replenishment is helpful in making bigger beaches for the tourists and protecting the ocean front buildings. One downside to this is you have to go find more sand and this can get expensive. 

Read Scott Gurian’s in-depth story 



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