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Understanding Erosion
Bluff erosion occurs naturally on Puget Sound. Many bluffs are naturally unstable because of soil, slope, and water conditions.
Most slope failures are directly related to the buildup of water in the soil. Development activities, such as clearing vegetation and modifying site drainage, can make erosion worse.  
 
Get to know and understand your property and the nature of erosion on the bank before you do anything. Often this means getting a geologist to evaluate the situation.

Questions To Ask:

  • If there is erosion, is it primarily due to wave action or is it more related to soil conditions upslope?
  • How serious is the erosion problem?
  • Is doing nothing a cost-effective solution?
  • If erosion is related to drainage, what is causing the problem?
  • What range of options do I have for addressing this problem?

Solutions May Include:

  • Reducing uncontrolled runoff from lawns, roofs, and driveways.
  • Planting shrubs and/or trees to stabilize soils and absorb water.
  • Engineered structures such as bulkheads and retaining walls.
  • Other approaches such as beach nourishment or bioengineering.

Think Twice about Bulkheads

Be smart and ask questions. Engineered solutions such as bulkheads and rock seawalls may be appropriate, but are often unnecessary and may be very expensive. In addition, these structures fundamentally alter natural shorelines and can lead to long-term damage to the beach.

Related Topics

Bulkheads, Bulkheads can increase beach erosion.
Drainage, Controlling excess runoff.
Landscaping, Landscaping tips.
Trees, Keeping trees for erosion control.

Related Links

Stabilization Measures, Department of Ecology. Summaries of shoreline stabilization measures listed in the WAC with an emphasis on Puget Sound.

Controlling Erosion Using Vegetation, Department of Ecology. An online guide to controlling erosion on slopes and bluffs using vegetation.

Impacts of Armoring, USGS
Proceedings of a state of science workshop, May 2009

Managing Drainage On Coastal Bluffs, Department Of Ecology Careful management of site drainage is the most cost-effective approach to minimizing bluff hazards.

Online Permit Assistance, Governor's Office Online permit information and guidance. 

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Comments? E-mail: Shellyne Grisham