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Since the early 1990s, a series of erosion crises have threatened private property, public facilities and infrastructure, and the economic and natural resources essential to the long-term viability of coastal communities. In the past, community response was resolved with case-by-case decision making due to a lack of scientifically-based information detailing regional coastal change.  Operating under these conditions, long-range community planning and consistent shoreline management is made increasingly difficult--if not impossible. Some of the crises that motivated the Study include:

Westport, December 1993: A breach at the South Jetty of the entrance to Grays Harbor threatened navigation, the city's sewage treatment plant and the adjacent West Haven State Park. Repairs to the jetty, including beach nourishment totaled nearly $8 million.

Ocean Shores, October, 1995: Condominium complexes constructed in the early 1990s faced immediate consequences. In October 1995 a storm event eroded a swath of shore 30 feet wide and a thousand feet long. In response to the crisis,  condominium owners paid more than $500,000 to construct a rock revetment.

North Cove, ongoing: For the past century, North Cove's Washaway Beach has been one of the fastest retreating shorelines in the United States, losing nearly 150 feet per year.  Erosion has damaged public infrastructure and private property and destroyed two lighthouses.

Over the past decade, tens of millions of dollars in federal and state funds have been spent on erosion protection along the coast, but because limited scientific data had been collected, the causes of erosion remained speculative. Coastal communities in Pacific and Grays Harbor Counties have been forced to make immediate decisions to mitigate expensive erosion crises, often with unknown consequences. 

Recognizing there was a lack of scientific data to offer guidance or perspective, the coastal communities sought state and federal funding with the Department of Ecology to conduct scientific research. The collection of diverse data sets and the analysis of physical changes to the coastal system are critical components for developing cost-effective solutions to erosion crises, preventing damage to future development and community infrastructure, and managing coastal resources. The knowledge base currently being developed through the research of the Study will facilitate local-level efforts of long-range planning and coastal management to protect life and property and support the economic and environmental sustainability of coastal communities.

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Ecology - SEA Program | USGS - Coastal & Marine Geology

This is http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/swces/overview/background_p2.htm
Maintained by CMAP, Washington Department of Ecology
Address questions and comments to George Kaminsky
Modified 22 Mar 2012