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Seawall and “Renourishment” Alternative: Saving the Beach Without Losing a Town’s Soul

| September 13, 2011

A dividing line between what beach-saving measures work and what doesn't work cuts beyond Flagler Beach's sands. (© FlaglerLive)

By Terry Potter

A group of citizens here is pushing its local government hard to buck the global trend of dredging and dumping sand on its beaches.

Flagler Beach is a small Atlantic coast city of about 5,500 residents that swells to tens of thousands on holidays. The county’s economy is primarily dependent on tourism due to its 19 miles of natural, attractive beach. The county’s unemployment was 14.7 percent last month, second-highest in the state., Inc. was formed as a non-profit corporation earlier this year after years of fighting by its founders to protect Flagler County’s eroding dunes and beaches.

Terry Potter. The shirt reads: 'We Want Our Beach Back!'

The Live Commentary

The mission statement is simple:  “to make Flagler Beach the first coastal community in the United States to restore and retain a permanent, naturally sustainable dune and beach system.”

In 2006, the Florida Department of Transportation built a 150-foot emergency seawall just north of South 13th Street, at a cost of $1 million. DOT plans to extend that seawall to 600 feet, past S. 14th Street, at an additional cost of $6.2 million. This would all been in addition to 1.8 miles of rock revetment installed years before for around $8 million, which was supposed to have fixed the problem in the first place.

Much of the rock revetment has been washed away, leaving ugly black plastic weed screen exposed. The seawall has accelerated the erosion, again threatening to undermine the designated Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway A1A. The beach has lost a lot of sand in that area, and there is very little dry sand at high tide. agrees with many authorities that seawalls and other forms of coastal armoring do not protect the beach; they provide a false sense of protection for the land and structures behind them. Armoring is a death sentence to a beach. And dredging is a band-aid that just washes away.

After years of research, the group has identified one technology that will achieve its mission, and also place Flagler county on the world map as an example of how beach erosion can be reversed naturally – and at a fraction of the cost of traditional armoring and “renourishment” methods.

If we don’t protect the beach we love, our story will be that of a seaside community that lost its natural resource, its sea turtle habitat, its recreation, and ultimately its quality of life.

Our real estate values, our business community, our quaint ‘Old Florida’ charm that tourists flock to visit, will be no more.

Terry Potter is a spokesman for is hosting a public seminar to educate residents and local officials about their proposed solution with Dick Holmberg of Holmberg Technologies Inc. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6p.m. at the Flagler County Association of Realtors building, 4101 East Moody Blvd, Bunnell. The city of Flagler Beach is holding a public “Town Hall” meeting on the subject on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Disabled American veterans building, 208 S. 6th St, Flagler Beach. For additional information contact Patty Brown at (386) 439-3726 or visit

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3 Responses for “Seawall and “Renourishment” Alternative: Saving the Beach Without Losing a Town’s Soul”

  1. Jackie Mulligan says:

    Great article! everyone who enjoys our beach should get involved.

    We are at a crossroad , and all it will take is another few storms and the FDOT will place more concrete and steel seawalls along our pristine beach.We are not against saving Scenic Highway A1A ,we are “for” preserving A1A and the dune and the beach.

    We think we have a better way of doing business,we already know that dredging and sand re-nourishment are not the solution they are only band-aids,and will probably need redoing every few years
    or after another storm takes all the sand away.You can see that this is a very BIG BUSINESS, (we gather the sand put it on the beach and nature and the next storm take it away,) Costing taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars every year.

    Please visit our web site and learn about an alternative to this method.It is called HOLMBERG TECHNOLOGY,it can create a sustainable beach and will not just stop erosion, it will help to rebuild our beaches.
    Then let your voices be heard, come to the meetings, call your commissioners
    do something, we can make a difference.
    Jackie Mulligan

  2. l says:

    i wuld love to work on a project like that

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    Excellent article!

    Thanks so much, Pierre, for shining the spotlight on this critical issue! I would like to encourage all those who enjoy our wonderful dunes and beaches to strongly support the implementation of a Holmberg System on at least part of our coastline to see if it can be rebuild our shoreline here. Thinking out of the box and trying a method that has been incredibly successful along the stormy shores of Michigan, as well as in other countries, is very reasonable. The state of Michigan had no problem with embracing and permitting over 40 projects using Holmberg’s technology. . . why shouldn’t Florida and Flagler Beach do the same?

    It is common knowledge that dredging is unhealthy for the environment by creating trenches in the ocean floor. . . to pour sand on a shore that will wash away after a storm or two, and ugly sea walls actually speed erosion. The Army Core of Engineers is entrenched in these failed methods, and have nothing else to offer our community. Take a good look at the rusted eye sore of a sea wall in front of Blue/Topaz that is less than 5 years old. Look at the erosion around the edges. Look at the dangerous shards of metal in the sand that are waiting to send someone to the hospital, and to court to sue our town= US! Is more of this what we really want for our community?

    If our leaders continue to do NOTHING, and wait years for the Army Core to continue to “study” the problem, the Department of Transportation will destroy our dunes, beach and town by constructing “emergency” horrible seawalls to support the structure of A1A. And, they can and will do this without our permission!

    Now is the time to act! Now is the time for our citizens to join together and insist that our leaders find a way to save the life blood of our community. . . by forcing this issue and trying a technology that could well permanently renourish our dunes and beaches for a fraction of the cost of old “tried and failed” methods. By contacting our leaders at the state and local levels by calling, emailing, writing letters, voting and speaking out at meetings are ways we can really make a difference.

    None of us need to do this alone. Joining the fine folks at Save Flagler’s Beach is a way to present a united front. There is great information on this subject on Hoping to see you at a meeting!

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