A temporary fix for erosion issues at Westport by the Sea Homeowners Association Phase 3 was recently completed in front of the condominium complex at the foot of West Ocean Avenue in Westport. January storms that included high tides, wild waves and strong westerly winds caused major damage to a previous erosion fix completed in late February of last year.
In the beginning
This isn’t the first time fill action has been called for to save the two northernmost structures in the complex, buildings 7 and 8. In the fall of 2015 and spring of last year, erosion destroyed more than 60 feet of uplands in front of the property, bringing the bankline to within 80 feet of those condos. Wave action that carved a cove in front of building 8 that was approximately 30 feet in width, left a scant 50-foot distance from its tip to the building’s foundation.
Following a request by the Homeowners Association, the City of Westport approved an emergency declaration allowing an exemption from the City’s Shoreline Master Plan. The plan prohibits any man-made work on shorelines inside city limits without going through a lengthy months-long permitting process that includes public hearings, and Westport by the Sea didn’t have months to spare. That declaration was forwarded to the state Department of Ecology, which permitted the emergency fixes once all necessary application paperwork was completed.
The fix included trucking in up to 1,000 cubic yards of locally sourced sand to fill the erosion-created cove and to fill a two-foot deep swale created by water run-up in the uplands between the head of the cove and the lawn in front of building 8. All work was done above the Mean High High Water line and replicated the shoreline embankment in that area to the height it was prior to the creation of the cove and swale.
Erosion control blankets
In order to meet Department of Ecology materials restrictions for the fill project, the Homeowners Association placed a biodegradable geo-fabric on the ground in the cove and in the swale.
Then sand was added that was “blanketed” by a bio-engineered product known as coir mesh. Coir erosion control blankets are open weave, pure coconut meshes that have proven to be one of the most durable natural fiber surface erosion control solutions available. They are highly recommended on sites where erosion forces are harsh, including exposed sites such as uplands or coasts.
The mesh decomposes slowly to provide prolonged protection while allowing vegetation to grow through it and anchor itself.
This latest fix — almost exactly a year later — has followed much the same pattern as the first, with the exception of trucking in trees with trunk root structures intact, as opposed to using driftwood that was available on the beach in front of the condos the last time around. The original coir mesh was reused and the bankline is once again at the height it was prior to erosion damage.
Shorelines protection regulatory requirements are so strong that property owners suffering from erosion have very limited options for long-term solutions. Since last year, the Westport by the Sea Homeowners Associations have worked to make connections with state and federal agencies to see if the Department of Ecology would authorize using Grays Harbor Channel dredging spoils for beach nourishment along the coastline.