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What are opponents of Undercurrent Stabilizer technology, proposed to prevent severe beach erosion in Flagler Beach, afraid of?

Save Flagler's Beach: Even during good periods of relatively calm waves, when sand on Flagler's Beach builds up enough so that some of it remains dry even at high tide, you can see the effects of continuing erosion.

Flagler Beach resident Don Deal (who wrote for this column recently) did indeed pass out a "white paper" to the City Commission at its June 22 meeting in question of the proposal. It was a position paper written in 1998 by professors at various North Carolina universities who opposed the use of Holmberg Technologies' Undercurrent Stabilizers to rebuild part of the North Carolina beach so the threatened Cape Hatteras Lighthouse would not need to be moved back from shore. They said it wouldn't work, and they prevailed: The lighthouse was moved back.

That report was written within a year of Holmberg's resounding 1999 success in Ras Tunera, Saudi Arabia, where the beach deepened and widened so quickly after the installation of the Undercurrent Stabilizers (a series of concrete-filled tubes buried at angles to shore) that bulldozers were brought in to push the incoming sand into an instant dune.

This same report, dredged up all these years later by the system's opponents and sent to various prominent citizens and lawmakers in Flagler Beach, contains a number of errors and falsehoods concerning the Undercurrent Stabilizers, many based on other "reports" proved to be entirely fabricated.

More recently, in a June 16 North Carolina newspaper column, Duke University's Orrin Pilkey, whose solution to beach erosion is to abandon the beachside roads and move all the buildings away from shore, and who is involved in a new war against citizens who want to regenerate another eroded North Carolina coast using the stabilizers, also dissembled about the technology in an effort to discredit it.

So here is a question many of us who are pushing for a demonstration project in Flagler Beach would like answered by Pilkey, the Army Corps of Engineers, the dredging lobbyists, and anyone else who uses cleverly manipulated innuendo and/or outright lies to shore up their opposition to the use of this truly amazing beach-regenerating technology: What are you afraid of?

These people are obviously scared to death that a small seaside town like Flagler Beach might succeed in having part of its heartbreakingly eroded beach brought back to life and health -- as well as a stretch of its newly designated Scenic Highway A1A saved and protected -- using these devices.

How can we tell they're terrified? Because the closer the citizens of Flagler Beach come to getting a positive vote to begin the one-mile, $2.5 million demonstration project we want to do, the bigger and more cunningly loaded are the guns deployed against the idea.

The latest trick: The state's Department of Environmental Protection's letter implying that if the city doesn't hire a coastal engineer -- typically in favor of nothing but dredging -- to review and approve this "alternative" method, its application for state funds might be delayed or denied. (The same letter announced a "gift" of $500,000 so the city can hire an engineer to do a $1.7 million "sand study" that would lead to another doomed-to-failure dredging project.)

One objection voiced by detractors is that the science upon which the Holmberg stabilizers are based disagrees with traditional theories applied by coastal engineers. It most definitely does. It acknowledges that most of the sand coming onshore is brought by currents originating offshore -- and not largely by longshore currents as is held by the so-called traditionalists. And it's not just theory. Dick Holmberg has shown that these offshore currents do exactly what he says they do. And he's vindicated by his success.

Undercurrent Stabilizers have regenerated beaches and dunes without any harmful side effects in more than 100 areas over the past 30 years. They've never failed, despite their opponents' attempts to say otherwise. I have seen scores of before-and-after photos showing beautifully broad beaches with rolling, vegetated dunes created by these devices. Never have I been shown a single photo of erosion they've caused, damage they've done or sustained, or evidence that they've not worked as stated.

One would think, with all the resources available to the Corps, the universities, and the powerful dredging industry and its lobbyists, that such evidence would surely have been provided had there been any truth to their assertions. But they have no such evidence. All they have is a well-established good-old-boy network very clever at guarding and enriching a dredging dynasty that has been sacrificing our shorelines to their own self-interests for more than a century.

Another of the detractors' major public arguments is that because Undercurrent Stabilizers haven't been tried yet on the Atlantic coast (not mentioning it is their opposition that has prevented this), they shouldn't ever be tried. Such illogical conclusions from people of science must be hard to defend with a straight face, yet they maintain this ridiculous position as stoutly as petulant children who don't want to share.

State and federal government agencies continue to spend billions of taxpayers' dollars on dredging operations that have dug enormous trenches in the sea bottoms, destroyed the offshore shoals that once protected our beaches from storm wave activity, killed countless millions of undersea creatures including sea turtles, destroyed whole ecosystems, and ultimately resulted in the loss to erosion of many thousands of square miles of United States territory. For them to deny a couple of million dollars -- around the price of a beach-front house -- to fund the demonstration of a technology with a flawless track record and a high likelihood of success must strike any thinking person as absurd.

So absurd, in fact, that it wouldn't happen if these agencies and their pals weren't scared to death we'll all be able to see, with our own eyes, that the Undercurrent Stabilizers work as advertised, and that we, too, can have a beach as broad and dunes as high and a road as protected as any depicted in the marvelous photos we've seen.

To those who contend the stabilizers won't work here, I say accept this challenge: Fund and permit one one-mile project, right here in Flagler Beach, to prove one way or the other, once and for all, who's right.

Let's see how brave they really are.

Leon, a professional writer and artist, lives in Flagler Beach. She is active in the campaign for the beach stabilizer demonstration project.

Jim Long NC

Save North Topsail: As long as we remain silent, the local and state politicians won't help us. We need to be heard as a large group so that action will be taken to preserve our eroding beaches.

Dr. Tom Brown, Mayor, Port Clinton

90.3 WCPN - 7th Generation - Sustainable Solutions to Beach Pollution

Jerry Berne
Sustainable Shorelines, Inc.

"Controversial technology" should not be applied to Holmberg Technologies.  Holmberg is the best documented method in its success, environmental soundness and sustainability in mitigating what is mostly manmade coastal erosion.

What is controversial is beach nourishment being considered at all.  It is proven to increase erosion, destroy habitat, kill marine life (think turtle hash) and smother reef and shoreline life.  "Nourished" beaches are temporary and, by the process removing protective shoals and deepening the offshore, allows more storm wave energy to strike the coast causing more damage to property, infrastructure and natural habitats.

Beach 'nourishment' is a starvation diet for our coastal ecosystems and devours public funds.  This week, Sarasota Commissioners expressed concerns over the $6 million per mile nourishment of Siesta Key setting a precedent as an even more expensive nourishment of Manasota Key looms.  As the sand runs out --and it has in some areas, these costs are only going to escalate.

Coastal engineers/consultants are profiting from our current coastal policies and practices even as it is obvious these have failed.  That the Corps continues to promote counterproductive and environmentally disastrous dredging projects should be the real controversy.

Amidst all the reports and articles trying to thwart an Undercurrent Stabilizer project for NTB, I thought you might like to read a supporting opinion. Joe Exum is a retired business executive with a lot of political clout in North Carolina. He has been a huge financial contrtibutor to Duke University. Enjoy:

Wilsondaily.com - Opinion Letters - 294586410912860

Erosion Control Magazine, Beachfront Reinforcement

UK Marinet Friends of the Earth

www.marinet.org.uk/coastaldefences/canute.html

Camp Arcadia, Mi

http://www.camp-arcadia.com/ Beach/Technologies.htm

http://www.camp-arcadia.com/Beach/TourHolmberg.pdf

Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve

http://marine.rutgers.edu/pt /coastal_training/toolkit/ access-files/toolkit.html

Soft Shore Conference Proceeding Dr Constantine Goudas

http://groups.msn.com/ softshoreprotectionconfproceedings/ proceedingscontents.msnw

The Holmberg General Educational Show In French

Civil Engineering Data Base

Vanishing Beaches: Erosion Control & Public Policy

By Dick Holmberg and Dr. Herbert Garfinkel

http://www.pubs.asce.org/WWWdisplay.cgi?8502162

Power Point Galveston Texas

http://www.rexross.com/reversingshoreline.html

Holmberg vs. opposition Cayman

http://www.caymannetnews.com/Archive/ Archive%20Articles/July%202003/ Issue%20443%20Mon/443-stories.html

Dr David Barnes

Studies Undercurrent Stabilizers

Michigan Academician; January 1, 2004; Barnes, David A. Kovacich, Michael S. Limesz, Santis; 9,411 Words.. Eastern shore of Lake Michigan in a variety of ... technology called the Undercurrent Stabilizer System ... marketed as the Undercurrent Stabilizer System ... the eastern Lake Michigan shore: near Duck ... demonstration project: Undercurrent Stabilizer Systems ... Division of the Michigan DEQ ..

Shore protection and coastal change on the Lake Michigan shore. Duck Lake, Orchard Beach State Park, and Onekama, Michigan.

T3 Proposal Undercurrent Stabilizers http://swiki.ucar.edu/dd/176


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