Over the past few decades, shorelines have suffered tremendous erosion. With climate change as the obvious cause, the future of our beloved Delmarva breaks seems uncertain. Beach towns up and down the east coast have been forced to conduct serious damage control by way of dredging, or shoreline replenishment. Also known as beach nourishment, this process essentially replaces eroded and lost sand and sediment from an outside source along with the establishment of a pipeline draining system.
I remember watching the beach and break transform every summer from these multi-million dollar projects and was always disappointed by the troughy waves and steep drop-off that they caused. However, I was unaware of how necessary they have become as each harsh weather pattern threatens towns just beyond the dunes.
These projects have become imperative to the future of Bethany, Ocean City, Dewey, and Rehoboth. In just this past year two projects have been completed in Ocean City and Dewey.
However the problem still remains that every major storm seems to undo all the work that’s been done. 2015 brought hurricanes Jonas and Joaquin which devastated the east coast and required an 18 million dollar project to keep the shore intact. If this past hurricane season showed us anything, it’s that the Delmarva coastline will continue to be impacted more and more every year.
So what does this mean about the future of east coast surfing? If the beaches continue depleting the only answer will be artificial waves like Kelly Slater’s man-made break in California. Right now it is the longest man-made barrel in the world, but since its unveiling, many other projects have begun production in places like San Diego. Surfline calls it a wave pool space race, and seeing as Slater has already submitted proposals to expand the Kelly Slater Wave Company to Florida, it’s only a matter of time until such a project makes its way to the beaches of Maryland and Delaware.
A never-ending perfect barrel seems like it would be the greatest achievement for the surfing world. Yet, nothing beats surfing your favorite local spot when the conditions are just right.
With every year bringing more replenishment projects though, surfing perfect organic waves seem numbered.