Mitigation Through Surf Enhancement/Conclusions

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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


The controversy surrounding the construction of the El Segundo groin has challenged the California Coastal Commission's ability to equitably balance the utilization of coastal resources with conservation. The decisions made in this case demonstrate both strengths and weakness in coastal management in California. The following points summarize why the El Segundo case has important repercussions in coastal management.

  1. The acknowledgment of Surfrider Foundation's objection to the El Segundo groin permit by the Coastal Commission demonstrated effectiveness public comment in coastal management in California. This challenge effectively increased level of scrutiny of offshore effects of coastal engineering structures.
  2. By recognizing the concerns about the quality of surf in the El Segundo area, the Coastal Commission recognized the importance of offshore resources in general and specifically acknowledged the importance of surfing as recreation and surf as a natural resource.
  3. In resolving the conflict with Surfrider and Chevron, the Coastal Commission demonstrated the necessary authority and flexibility to find an equitable solution when faced with a lack of quantitative evidence. Although the negotiations were lengthy, the Coastal Commission worked to find a solution that reasonably satisfied all parties.
  4. The six year surf monitoring program administered by Dr. Andrew Lissner demonstrated that physical science may not always be the best method to define or determine resource damage.
  5. Through negotiation, a unique mitigation effort was agreed upon that satisfied all parties. The use of an artificial surfing reef to enhance the degraded surf in El Segundo will be the first project of its kind.
  6. Model results suggest that the artificial surfing reef will extend the surf zone beyond the present conditions, create a pattern of breaking similar to a high quality surfing break, and increase wave height prior to breaking. There are still questions remaining about the reef's effect on wave shape.
  7. If successful the reef may present a new mitigation tool to restore surf in areas where surfing has previously been degraded. Success of the reef also raises questions about the effectiveness of the reef to prevent coastal erosion, analogous to a submerged breakwater.
  8. If the reef fails, the destruction of surfing sites may be disallowed in the future to prevent non-mitigated losses of recreational surfing areas.