Meet the new urban waterfront
Our waterfront needs to protect us from het rising sea level. Good news: The number of innovative options for restoring ecology along the urban waterfront seems to be increasing by the minute.
Since land in urban areas is often unavailable or difficult to restore to pre-settlement times, floating wetlands (FWs), an ecologically engineered technology, represent an effort to mimick the wetlands that existed long ago.
FWs hold the promise of returning ecological services like pollutant uptake and transformation, water quality improvement, wave attenuation, habitat, and aesthetic beautification.
Living breakwaters & Pile encapsulation
Living breakwaters are structures placed parallel to the shore in medium to high energy open water environments to dissipate wave energy while providing habitat and erosion control. These breakwaters are typically constructed with rock and potentially seeded with oyster spat. Oysters biogenically build and layer over time to create a calcified natural surface atop the man-made structure. This growth can enhance strength, stability and longevity of the breakwaters.
Breakwaters do not keep the water out, however, they calm water, reduce wave heights, and reduce shoreline erosion. Living breakwaters create calm areas near the shoreline, which can be replanted with submerged aquatic vegetation and marsh grasses to create intertidal and marsh habitat for aquatic organisms. Breakwaters can also be designed and located to encourage or discourage sedimentation along the shoreline. Sedimentation can help to extend the beach, useful in areas of high erosion. Sedimentation is not desirable close to critical habitat or navigation channels.
Waterfront & ECOncrete
Living breakwaters can provide habitat throughout the water column. The subtidal structure underwater can incorporate small scale pockets, or reef streets, into the breakwater to provide foraging and shelter for juvenile fish. Above water, breakwaters can host harbor seals and nesting birds in upland islands.
The NYC Rebuild by Design Living Breakwaters proposal for the Hurricane Sandy Design Competition included multiple techniques, such as reef streets, oyster gardens to spat-on ECOncrete® ecological armoring units.
- ECOncrete ecological armoring units are modular building blocks of marine infrastructure, which provide coastal defense against hydrodynamic forces of sea waves.
- ECOncrete armoring units are designed to create urban marine habitats, which encourage growth of various marine organisms by modifying the composition, texture and design of standard armoring units.
- ECOncrete ecological pile encapsulation substitutes standard concrete pile encapsulation.
Piles are used in piers and jetties. It is applied to protect steel piles or repair timber piles from deterioration by marine burrowers such as worms and mussels.
In addition to the necessary constructive support and protection, ecological pile encapsulation creates a new and productive habitat for marine plants and animals.
- WaterWheel cleans the harbor
- Coast protection alternatives
- Amazing proposals to aim and protect New York against a hurricane
- Designing sustainable infrastructure to meet the water demand of future generations
- Earthquakes, river flooding, cyclones and tsunamis: world’s 10 riskiest cities
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