July 15, 2013 03:59

Business Talk

Beach Erosion Control Levies Approved

Oceanfront property owners in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, New York, approved a $26.5 million plan to deal with the loss of beachfront caused by storms. Beaches in the adjoining districts have lost an average of 125,000 cubic yards of sand a year for 20 years, enough to fill 6,250 dump trucks annually, town officials said.

The plan is to raise taxes over the next ten years to cover the cost of pumping more than a million cubic yards of sand onto and in front of eroded beaches. Designed to reverse 25 years of erosion, it will cost most homeowners $10,000 to $30,000 a year. More than 100 parcels are subject to the special tax.

“We’re very excited that the plan has passed. We think this beach nourishment project is the first of many that are going to need to happen on the south shore of Long Island,” said Bridgehampton homeowner Jeff Lignelli.

Because the newly formed erosion districts are considered public facilities, the cost of replacing sand lost to a future storm could be reimbursed up to 87.5 percent by FEMA and the state. The job is expected to take three to four months.

Soil Erosion Debated in Wisconsin

Democrats in Wisconsin are fighting a new measure that would standardize erosion control rules for commercial construction sites. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee recently added a provision to the state budget that would stop local governments from enacting ordinances that are stricter than rules enforced by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Democrats claim the measure is an attempt to take power away from local governments; Republicans argued that the provision benefits communities. DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said that the statewide standards would need to regulate construction sites’ erosion control and stored water discharge in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

Erosion Control Permit Now Required

A new erosion control regulation for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is now in effect. Any property owner planning to develop on one acre or more of land has to obtain an erosion sediment control permit and have it authorized by a professional engineer. This includes homeowners, developers, contractors, business owners, engineers and architects.

“This new regulation also adds another wrinkle, which is that there is a liability insurance requirement involved as well,” said Kelley Fetter, CEO of StormCo in Bernalillo, New Mexico. “Anyone developing property of an acre or more should work with a professional engineer who specializes in erosion sediment control and Environmental Protection Agency compliance issues, to be sure they comply with all the regulations,” she said.

Sea Walls Said to Encourage Erosion

Waterside residents in Palm Beach County, Florida, are scrambling to find ways to keep the beach from crumbling into the ocean. But a county deputy director of environmental resources management said that sea walls “tend to accelerate erosion of the beach.”

Surfrider Foundation, based in San Clemente, California, opposes sea wall construction and says that the structures actually encourage erosion.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy, based in Gainesville, Florida, agrees: “Sea walls prevent turtles from nesting by destroying nesting habitat and also contribute to further beach erosion, causing beach loss for people as well as turtles.” Florida is home to 70 percent of the nation’s sea turtle nests.

Student Researches Erosion- Controlling Chemical

A junior at North Carolina State University in Raleigh has been working on research that will help control erosion. Tyler Sowers developed a method to detect the levels of polyacrylamide (PAM) in an aqueous solution. “PAM is a polymer in water treatment and erosion control,” said Owen Duckworth, an assistant professor of soil biogeochemistry in the department of soil science. It’s put on soil to keep the land from eroding on construction sites.

“PAM works by attaching itself to the soil and causes it to flocculate, or to bind together and to drop out of the water that is eroding the land,” Sowers said. However, there was no portable way to measure how much PAM is in a given solution.

Sowers used an older method previously employed in water treatment and paper processing, and adapted it to detect the amount of PAM in a water system. He took a portable turbidity meter, which measures how misty a solution is, and instead discovered a way to use it onsite to measure PAM levels in water. Sowers’ research has the potential to widen the use of PAM, not only in the research setting but the private sector as well.

Maine Town Sues for Erosion Control Violations

The Town of Rome, Maine, is suing a couple and their landscape contractor for violating a shoreland zone ordinance. Scott and Lauren Bolduc and their contractor, Keenan Farwell, owner of Finishing Touch Landscape, were named in the suit. The town alleges that crushed stone and bark mulch were placed too close to Long Pond, resulting in soil erosion and water pollution.

The couple had constructed a patio within 85 feet of the shoreline, although their building permit stated that no structure could be closer than 100 feet from the pond. The town’s code enforcement official attempted several times to resolve the soil erosion issues, but was ignored by the Bolducs and Farwell. The town issued a stop work order in 2012 and consulted with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to inspect the work.

“All of the attempts that were taken with the people came to no fruition. The people refused to do anything,” said Paul Anderson, Rome Selectman. Bolduc had been honored earlier this year by the local Chamber of Commerce as “Businessperson of the Year.”

Heavy Rainfall Causes Topsoil Erosion

A rainy April has resulted in significant soil erosion in Missouri. Rainfall averaged 6.2 inches for April, the fourth consecutive month with above-average precipitation. Brent Myers, a specialist with the University of Missouri, has reported severe soil erosion across much of northeastern Missouri.

“Erosion is worse on poorly drained and sloping ground where water is likely to run off, carrying topsoil with it. Missouri really is a nexus of soil erosion risk,” Myers said.

Peter Scharf, plant sciences specialist with University of Missouri Extension, said that Missouri has lost about half of its topsoil in the past century and if the weather patterns continue, clay-type subsoil will be all that remains.

“We’re on a course to lose all of our topsoil. It’s not what happens in one year. It’s what happens over 100 years,” said Scharf.

Also in Soil Erosion News

In many ways, we are fortunate that, in our chosen profession, we are able to help people when certain disasters occur: the tornadoes in Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia, the flooding in Louisiana, the snows in the northeastern part of the country, the rain in California, and the snow in Colorado....

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