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SEAL BEACH : Role of Seawall in Beach Erosion Debated

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A large crack in the 36-year-old concrete wall that lines the west side of the Municipal Pier remains unrepaired while debate continues on whether the seawall is friend or foe to the coastal environment.

City officials say the wall, or groin, is necessary to slow the loss of sand from the city’s badly eroded beaches. But the Surfrider Foundation says the groin contributes to sand erosion and traps pollutants in the city’s most popular surfing area.

“Groins just steal sand from one place and cause erosion on the other side,” said Dr. Gordon LaBedz, a Surfrider Foundation spokesman and Seal Beach resident. “Groins are obsolete.”

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City Director of Parks and Recreation Andy Seymour agrees that the wall inhibits the flushing of pollutants from local waters. But he said the severe erosion of sand from local beaches would be far worse without the seawall.

“Were it not for the groin, our sand would be in a continuous exodus,” Seymour said. “The seawall has effectively prevented wholesale erosion for the east side of the beach.”

City officials are in no hurry to repair the 8-year-old crack, which would cost a minimum of $250,000, Seymour said.

The crack has yet to become a serious threat to the wall’s stability, he said.

“I could wait two years and not be in a worry mode at all,” Seymour said.

The worst thing the city could do, according to the Surfrider Foundation, would be to extend the groin as recommended nearly a decade ago by the city’s engineering consultants.

Seal Beach Mayor Marilyn Bruce Hastings said she is in favor of repairing the groin, even though she acknowledged that it traps pollutants.

“Everything is a trade-off when it comes right down to it,” Hastings said. “But I don’t know that I would go so far as to say we need to extend it.”

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