The value of protecting our shorelines
Faced with rising sea levels, shoreline protection measures not only provide a sense of security for waterfront homeowners, but also maintain our beaches for recreational purposes, restore natural wildlife habitat, and provide storm protection for the infrastructure that supports significant portions of the American economy.
Both public and private shoreline properties have been gaining in value over the past years, but these higher values also come with greater environmental risks. These properties are likely to become more valuable in the future, but only with erosion control and stabilization measures in place. For this reason, a shoreline evaluation assessment — of both existing conditions and longer-term risks that may impact property values — is a worthwhile investment.
How to assess shoreline risks
A shoreline property’s risk assessment profile includes evaluation of a number of conditions and risk factors, including:
- Geographic location (i.e., whether the property is on a barrier beach, the ocean, a bay, or an estuary);
- Any mapped flood and velocity zones in the vicinity;
- The proximity of any structure to the shoreline, the direction in which the structure faces, and the ground elevation surrounding the structure; and
- The historic frequency of episodic storms and storm surge levels in the area — and the future probability for occurrence and/or re-occurrence of these events.
For a minimal cost investment, this type of evaluation report can provide valuable information to assess a shoreline property’s level of risk for experiencing adverse environmental conditions, such as coastal erosion and predicted storm surge. The report can also be used to estimate the time remaining for any existing structures — based on the average erosion rates in that location — or to evaluate the possibility of moving those structures further away from any coastal threats.