Time to face some hard truths

Seeing the continuing horrible conditions of Arthur/Patricia beaches this year, the time has come for the residents of VB to face some harsh truths and realities.  The “foolhardy” protection of property seems to be resulting in some pretty clear consequences.

Here is a link to a very good article that is very informative about what is causing the loss of our beaches on Lake Winnipeg, including a reaction to shoreline protection:

Here is an important excerpt:

“Shoreline protection engineering is an extremely controversial topic, and it is not within our mandate to make recommendations or to conduct research into design. I can, however, offer a few thoughts.

Engineers tend to recommend engineering, whereas geologists tend to recommend that you back off and respect the forces of nature. There is no doubt, however, that a Professional Engineer can design a means to temporarily protect a high value installation that was, through error or necessity, built too close to a retreating shore.  

Geologists, on the other hand, are quick to point out the inadequacies of shoreline engineering.

While erosion may be halted at the water line, it is essential to recognize that erosion continues underwater to a depth of several metres. Consequently, the shore armour is exposed to progressively greater wave power.

Furthermore, sand must be mobile for shoreline systems to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium. According to a standard geomorphology textbook by Bloom, ʺExtensive reclamation and beach stabilization projects actually endanger barriers, because unless sand is free to move with changing wave conditions, erosion results.ʺ In SEPM Special Publication No. 48, Pilkey and Thieler state, ʺThe myriad sea walls, breakwaters, groins, and jetties that line developed shorelines divert offshore, slow down, trap, and otherwise reduce the regional beach sediment supply by longshore currents, and thereby increase erosion rates.ʺ This view is summed up on the cover of one edition of the book ʺThe Beaches are Movingʺ, by Kaufman and Pilkey, as follows, ʺthese facts provide a new ability to make informed, intelligent decisions for the coast.

This is the first book to explain why the shore must move, and how utterly foolhardy we are to armor our coast against the unbeatable force of nature.ʺ 


There are better ways!

Excellent article in todays free press on shorelines with a quote we all know to be true:

Other areas around the lake have employed shoreline-protection projects using tons of jagged boulders, steel plates or metal cages filled with rock.

But those techniques are not only costly, they change the nature of the shoreline forever, as well as its accessibility.”
To read the full article go to:

A CRITICAL REPORT ON THE RMVB SHORELINE CONCLUDES: Revetments: Doomed to Fail and Doomed to Destroy the Beaches

Last night on July 23rd, Peter Zuzek of Baird Engineering gave a very strong, intelligent, sensitive, scientific and lay term comprehensible presentation regarding Shoreline Protection at a meeting at the Sports Centre for the RMVB community at large.

(Baird has been hired by the RMVB as in independent and unbiased source to analyze the possible causes for our erosion issues and to propose possible solutions for them. They have been actively working since October studying our particular shoreline dynamics, content and complexities.)

One of the first things Mr. Zuzek said to start the evening was that “We (Baird) are here to try and remove the emotion and focus on the science.”

After listening and contemplating his factual and science based reports, combined with the discussions following, two things became emphatically clear by evening end.

In his companies independent and unbiased opinion:

1. Revetments in front of sand beaches will ultimately destroy the beaches in front of them.

2. Revetments on the banks in the RMVB will eventually, over time, fail.  They will not be able to maintain their capacity to protect the shore over the longer term.

(Note: This information is coming from a company that builds revetments all over the world. They fully agree that these structures do serve their purpose when they are built and maintained properly in the proper environment for them to function and succeed. There is a proper place for them to be built and to effectively work. However, it is their opinion, the shorelines of the RMVB is not one of those places if our goal is to protect the beaches we currently have. “We can build them, but you don‘t want them in front of your public beach.”)

Mr. Zuzek made a critical point very clear (through a very effective slide presentation)that stabilizing the bank –through rip rap or revetments — does not, nor will not completely stop all the erosion taking place. Nor will it help the beach in front of it.

Erosion, by the way, that is a completely normal and natural occurrence.

He showed that the problem with a rip rap or revetment is that it denies the replenishment of the sand to the beach that occurs through natural erosion from the cliffs and banks. (This is how the greatest amount of sand comes to our beach in conjunction with a smaller amount from the currents.)

What many people are not aware of is that through the soil samples of the area they have been collecting it has become clear that approximately 100 to 150 meters out from the beach shoreline the sand stops and the bottom of the lake is then clay. Thus the actual “sand area” under water that the beach can draw from is relatively small. There is not nearly as plentiful and abundant an amount of sand in the lake bottom as many have assumed.

More importantly, once you get to the clay area, erosion actually takes place there too.

It was then pointed out to the surprise of many that very much the same erosion process happens at this point — where sand meets clay underwater — as it does on the banks where we can see it happening!

This underwater erosion is called downcutting.  (Again, all a natural occurrence.)

It turns out revetments are actually doomed to cause two disasters.

First, a revetment problematically stops the natural process of erosion of the banks from which beach sand replenishment actually comes. Leading to an eventual scouring and removal of the beach before them.

Secondly, all the while, the revetment then actually increases the irreversible downcutting under the water.

This unseen and now increased erosion continues underwater until the revetment itself, over time, becomes unstable and is also destroyed. Literally falling back into the water as the sand is completely lost under the water and the delicate clay underground erodes as well.

Eventually, without exception, the clay base becomes unstable, causing the failure of the entire revetment or rip rap structure.

In Mr. Zuzeks own words.

In the RMVB it is A FACT that a revetment will eventually fail and fall into the lake.”

“It is A FACT, that revetments will accelerate the downcutting.”

Thus, in no uncertain terms: If revetments go up, the beach sand will disappear.

Over time, so will the revetments.

A loss on all counts.

Mr. Zuzek commented during the evening “I can reaffirm that revetments will destroy the beaches. I can guarantee that will happen.”

So in the end it becomes very clear that the RMVB community and its Council needs to make clear, decisive and bold choices from now on regarding anything being built on our shorelines. Particularly when it comes to rock rip rap and revetments.

It is our civic and moral duty to protect these beaches not only for the present but for all the generations to come.

We need to ask ourselves before anything is ever allowed to be built on the shorelines again, like that which has occurred on Arthur: What are the consequences of a structure built on our shorelines? How will it impact it? (We can no longer pretend Victoria Beach is somehow “special” and unlike anywhere else on earth. The Baird study makes it abundantly clear what type of irreparable damage revetments can and likely will cause. )

We must ask: Does a proposed structure maintain and conserve our public spaces for generations to come? (As per our RMVB Development Plan which clearly stipulates is a main priority, aim and goal of the community at large).

Most importantly we must ask: Does the structure — intentionally or not –go against those goals?

The RMVB has a lot of things to consider in the days, months and years ahead and one thing has become clearer and clearer, time and time again, over the past year: that science says revetments are not the solution for trying to protect property in front of public sand beaches.

It is that plain and that simple. Confirmed yet again, this time by an independent source hired to particularly look at our own situation in the RMVB.

It seems reasonable after the Baird presentation that it is finally time for the council of RMVB to unanimously accept the science. To heed to the will of the large majority that seems to accept that science.

As Mr. Zuzek stated: “The time has come that the RMVB takes active and permanent intervention as this is the only way to protect front row homes and local beaches.”

The Council must accept its duty to protect the unique character and beauty of our public area beaches and place it as the number one priority from this day forward.

That from this day forward, future time, resources and efforts would be better spent on investigating other ideas and solutions — and hopefully implementing them — to deal with erosion issues facing property owners.

But that revetments, in front of public sand beaches and public spaces, should be ultimately denied from this day forward.

Free Press: Informative Article On Retreating From The Shoreline

There is an informative article in the Winnipeg Free Press today discussing how more and more that the only real way to deal with erosion is to vacate. A difficult concession and one with sad repercussion for those owning property. None the less, it is increasingly the solution of choice since shoreline erosion is virtually impossible to stop.

“Up and down the California coast, some communities are deciding it’s not worth trying to wall off the encroaching ocean. Until recently, the thought of bowing to nature was almost unheard of.”

“buffers may protect the base of cliffs, and the land and property behind them, but they often exacerbate the problem by scouring beaches, making them narrower or even causing them to disappear.”

“…after futile attempts to curb coastal erosion — a problem that is expected to grow worse with rising seas fueled by global warming — there is growing acknowledgment that the sea is relentless and any line drawn in the sand is likely to eventually wash over.”

“entire villages have been forced to move to higher ground or are thinking about it in the face of melting sea ice. Hawaii’s famous beaches are slowly shrinking and some scientists think it’s a matter of time before the state has to explore whether to move back development.”

“Several states along the Atlantic coast have adopted policies meant to keep a distance from the ocean. They include no-build zones, setbacks or rolling easements that allow development but with a caveat. As the sea advances, homeowners promise not to build seawalls and must either shift inland or let go.”

“…the scenic Great Highway is under assault from the Pacific. Erosion has inched closer to the roadway each year, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues girding segments with broken-up rock, a costly temporary fix that has had limited success.”

“People who want to build new oceanside construction agree not to build a seawall if their homes become threatened in the future.”

Here is the link to the full article:


NEW YORK TIMES Article against armouring the shores August 15, 2011

 “Unless society chooses beaches over buildings the result will be a world in which parks like the National Seashores retain natural beaches, but beach resorts elsewhere are “heavily walled and beachless.”

From an article today in the NEW YORK TIMES about how armouring the beach et al will inevitable destroy them.

Click on the following link:

Are the powers that be in Victoria Beach that naive, careless and uninformed to allow our beaches destroyed?  Have you voiced your concern?  To your council?  To the Shoreline Erosion Commitee?  You have until Sept 15th when it may be too late.

PLEASE take the time, the effort and the responsibility of taking a stand!  Let your voice be heard.

Click on the following link:

The Arthur revetment sadly at work

In case you had any wonders as to the immediate effect of the revetment on Arthur, here are some pictures to do all the talking.

One third of the beach is completely gone.

Just water directly up to the rocks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Imagine what it will be like if the rest of the Patricia and Arthur owners are given the opportunity to proceed.

As well, interesting to note that those above the rock wall have been witnessed to climb on the rocks and cliffs to bring down inflatable boats, chairs, surf boards, hit golf balls, place ladders etc.  (In the past they were stating it was the climbing that was a contributor to the problem.)

If you are concerned about what is happening to the beaches at Victoria Beach you must make your voice heard.  Please email the Shoreline Erosion Committee immediately with your concerns.  It has never been more important to speak up!


 “Staying out of it” likely means you are surrendering the beaches for your and all the generations to come.  It is possible that the proponents are likely counting on your “politeness” and inaction.

Here is the Shoreline Advisory committee info:

More recommendations against Rip Raps or rock walls on shorelines

More evidence and recommendation that you DO NOT replace the shoreline with a hardened surface like rip rap or breakwalls…

It is time the RM’s and Province of Manitoba followed the science and saved our wonderful beaches rather than enable the opposite.

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