Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement/Abstract

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Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement
An Early History of Pratte's Reef
HomeAcknowledgementsAbstractIntroductionChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3ConclusionsAppendix AAppendix BBibliography
Note Note: This paper documents the background and theory behind an Artificial Surfing Reef (ASR) that was constructed in El Segundo, CA in 2000. Evaluation of the effects of this reef determined that it did not improve surfing conditions and has led to its removal, with phase one of the removal process beginning in 2008. For more information, see the article Pratte's Reef

With increased development pressure along the coast of California, the need for coastal management to balance development and conservation became apparent in the late 1960's. California responded to this need by establishing the California Coastal Act and the California Coastal Commission to "assure orderly, balanced utilization and conservation of coastal zone resources"(CCA, §30001.5(b)). Unfortunately, in the Coastal Commission's efforts to maintain this balance, surfers and surf breaks were often ignored. However, through increased numbers and the establishment of conservation organizations, such as Surfrider Foundation, the surfers are beginning to defend the coast. Through their efforts offshore resources, including the surf, are being recognized as a natural resources that deserve consideration in management decisions.

The controversy surrounding the construction of the El Segundo Groin by Chevron Corporation provides an interesting case study to examine the Coastal Commissions ability to maintain the balance between utilization and conservation. Surfrider Foundation opposed the permit, granted by the Coastal Commission, to build the groin on the grounds that it would negatively alter the surf in the area. The Coastal Commission took this objection into consideration and held Chevron liable for the surf conditions. Through a combination of physical and social science it was determined that the groin had reduced the surf quality. The Coastal Commission through a flexible negotiation process negotiated a mitigation project that satisfied Chevron and Surfrider Foundation: the construction of the first artificial surfing reef (Ewing, 1995).

In order to investigate the impacts of coastal engineering projects, nearshore processes in Santa Monica Bay are described. To better predict the success of the artificial reef, a computer model of refraction and diffraction of waves breaking over artificial reef designs was employed. Simulation of the wave response to the planned reef design demonstrated important reef design qualities necessary to enhance the surf in El Segundo. The predicted success of the reef allows further evaluation of the Coastal Commission's decision making process.