The erosion and potential solutions to stabilize the shoreline at the North Jetty drew special attention from the Ocean Shores City Council on Monday.
The decades-old problem has led to the completion of the Grays Harbor North Jetty and Ocean Shores Shoreline Erosion Study, which suggests several options the city has put forward with partners such as the state Department of Ecology, the Port of Grays Harbor and several state lawmakers.
During a two-hour council study session, the state Dept. of Ecology’s George Kaminsky gave the latest details of his ongoing beach erosion observations that have documented the damage to the area at the very southern tip of Ocean Shores since the 1990s.
That was followed by the presentation of the North Jetty Repairs Conceptual Plan, presented by Vladimir Shepsis, Coast and Harbor Engineering, who likewise has more than two decades of experience with the area in question.
The plan is being presented to the Legislature in a request to help with funding, with three conceptual alternatives identified, at cost estimates that range from $3.8 million for the first alternative, $6.3 million for Alternative C, and $7.9 million for Alternative B.
Under those alternatives — each involving jetty repairs — the first one would provide an estimated five to 10 years of shoreline protection, with Alternative C providing 10 to 15 years, and Alternative B providing more than 15 years.
According to the study, approximately 1,000 feet of “jetty repairs appears to be required to satisfy stability requirements” for Ocean Shores, at least in the near future.
“To get to a stable condition, you need 1,000 feet of jetty rehabilitation,” Shepsis said, noting the plan does not represent a “monster project. The key is where do you apply the 1,000 feet” of repairs.
Based on the study and estimate, the city is making a formal $4 million funding request to the Legislature, sponsored by newly elected 24th District Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles. The request also has some initial support from Capital Budget Chairman Rep. Steve Tharinger of the 24th district, who likewise has visited the jetty area this past year to see some of the erosion and localized damage.
The target date to start the work would be May 2017, with the end date being Dec. 20, 2018.
Kaminisky told the council and about 25 citizens that some of the temporary solutions, such as sand fencing tried late last year, have had some impact. Overall, however, sand seems to be leaving the area because of jetty deterioration and not staying in the system.
“In the past few years, we’ve had more erosion than what is typical, which is why we are now in the position we are in,” Kaminsky said. “The sand is leaving and it’s not coming back.”
The erosion is even more pronounced at the marina and Damon Point, where Kaminsky said there have been 19 to 26 meters of shoreline erosion in recent years. “The spit keeps migrating closer and closer to the marina,” he said.
Overall, the area around the jetty is losing an average 25,800 cubic yards of sediment per year, and a dune breach “represents the highest risk to upland infrastructure,” such as the city’s wastewater treatment facility, located between the jetty area and Damon Point.
Shepsis acknowledged that any plan agreed to by the city or the state would still require the support and approval of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, which was charged with originally constructing the jetty as a federal ship navigation necessity. However, the last time the Corps did any jetty rehabilitation was in 2001. It was built in three phases from 1907 to 1916, and rehabilitated in 1942 and 1975, allowing a large portion of Ocean Shores to be created at the southern end of the peninsula.
“Our job was to determine how much of the jetty needs to be rehabilitated to solve your problem,” Shepsis told the city officials.
The next issue is who would pay the costs? “This is not something that is going to happen overnight,” Mayor Crystal Dingler said. “I personally think we need to move forward and do what we need to do.”