4.1D – Marina Siting and Design – Shoreline Stabilization

Management Measure

Where streambank or shoreline erosion is a NPS pollution problem, streambanks/shorelines should be stabilized (when determining whether streambank/shoreline erosion is a NPS problem, assess natural erosion rates and the dynamic equilibrium of the streambank/shoreline). The use of vegetative stabilization methods is preferred over the use of structural stabilization methods, if appropriate considering the climate, severity of erosion, offshore bathymetry, and/or the potential adverse impact on other streambanks or shorelines and offshore areas.

Management Practices

Shoreline stabilization can be accomplished using either vegetative or structural stabilization techniques.. Use vegetative plantings, wetlands, beaches, and natural shorelines where space allows. If structural stabilization is required, riprap revetment is preferable to a solid vertical bulkhead. This is because riprap allows for colonies of aquatic animals and plants and absorbs wave energy better than bulkheads.

Shorelines can be protected from wave energy with structural features such as vertical bulkheads in areas where reflected waves will not endanger shorelines or habitats. Artificial reef structures can be used as submerged breakwaters, providing wave attenuation for shoreline erosion control. More information about using artificial reef structures for erosion control and habitat enhancement can be found at (Harris, 2003).

Retain natural shoreline features to the maximum extent feasible and protect disturbed areas from erosion.


  • California Department of Boating and Waterways’ Beach Erosion Control Program, the acts as shore protection advisor and plans, designs, and constructs erosion control structures when funds are available. The goals of the program are cosponsoring beach erosion control projects with local and federal agencies, improving present knowledge of oceanic forces, beach erosion and shoreline conditions, and preventing future erosion.
  • DBW Cal Boating provides annual boat launching facility grants to public entities throughout the state for construction of launch ramps, boarding floats, shoreside or floating restrooms, shore protection, vehicle/trailer parking, and other boating related items. The facilities constructed with Cal Boating grants must be in environmentally acceptable areas, meet or exceed our design criteria, be economically feasible, and remain open to all boaters at reasonable prices. In return for this funding, grant recipients are responsible for operating and maintaining the project for a minimum of 20 years at no additional cost to the state.

General Resources

  • National Shoreline Erosion Control Development and Demonstration Program, Coastal Shore Protection Structures and Techniques is a compilation of user-friendly fact sheets that describe and illustrate a number of structural and nonstructural shoreline stabilization practices. The site also links to technical documents, case studies, and useful databases.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Low-Cost Shore Protection: A Guide for Engineers and Contractors caters to individuals with some prior experience with civil engineering. It outlines various affordable shoreline stabilization techniques.
  • Watershed Institute, Are "Stable Shoreline" and "Broad Beaches" Mutually Exclusive Management Goals Along Southern Monterey Bay? details some of the key coastal geomorphic concepts presented to a panel on coastal erosion. Topics discussed in this report include sea level rise and long-term coastal retreat rates, beach nourishment and jetties, and reducing the loss of sand to offshore storage.


Harris, L.E. 2003. Artificial reef structures for shoreline stabilization and habitat enhancement. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Surfing Reef Symposium, Raglan, New Zealand, June 22–25, 2003, pp. 176–179.

USEPA. 2001. National Management Measures Guidance to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Marinas and Recreational Boating. EPA 841-B-01-005. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Retrieved on March 16, 2008 from http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/mmsp/index.html

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