The devastation caused to Plumb Beach this weekend by the remnants of Hurricane Ida was “No surprise,” according to members of Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association and experts. As recently as January, officials from the community, city, state, and federal agencies convened at the Plumb Beach bathhouse to discuss protection of the increasingly dangerous bike path and the threatened Belt Parkway. The problem is greater, though, affecting the ecology and wildlife of the entire area.

The meeting, called by Congressman Anthony Weiner to survey nature’s threat, ended with calls for solutions. At the time, the surging waters appeared to be passing underneath the bike path. Water soaked the grass adjacent to the highway, suggesting that erosion was occurring beneath the Belt Parkway as well, undermining its stability. While SBPB Civic proposed a plan to shore up the coast and add more sand and rocks underneath the bike path to strengthen it, nothing has happened.

Dr. Norbert P. Psuty, a coastal geomorphologist at Rutgers University who has studied sediment transfers at Plumb Beach for several years, says the solution needs to go beyond the bike path and be as far-reaching as the effects of sand migration.

“I think there’s more to this [than controlling erosion to the bike path],” Psuty says. “This is an area with no natural sand supply coming in.” He says that as tides pull out the sand there’s no way of replenishing the beachfront naturally. Worse yet is where the sand is going.

“The negative impact is far to the east, going across the beach and settling in the wetlands,” Psuty says. By filling in the wetlands, the pileup destroys southern Brooklyn’s protection from floods and storm surges, and eliminates acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife in New York City’s most important ecological reserve.

Damage has spiked since 1992, when government authorities shored up the beach with tons of sand. Today, almost all of that sand is gone and smothers the wetlands to the east, illustrating why a simple “dump-it-and-forget-it” plan is not only ineffective, but dangerous.

Psuty says the solution must include tracking the sand and knowing exactly where it goes and how much of it goes there. He proposes an active management program that looks at areas of erosion and returns it, creating a sort of conveyor belt of sediment.

“In the long term, you need some sort of sediment recycling program,” he says. “A sort of quasi-equilibrium.”

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  • http://www.gene-2009.com/ Gene B.

    It’s always a pleasure to hear from Dr. Psuty. He’s always on the money.

    I strongly suggest that we all contact Rep. Weiner and express our concerns for Plumb Beach. The solution cannot simply be a “patch job” – it has to be a comprehensive solution for the shoreline with active monitoring.

    Today’s crumbling bike path is tomorrow’s tragedy on the Belt.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com Gene B.

    It’s always a pleasure to hear from Dr. Psuty. He’s always on the money.

    I strongly suggest that we all contact Rep. Weiner and express our concerns for Plumb Beach. The solution cannot simply be a “patch job” – it has to be a comprehensive solution for the shoreline with active monitoring.

    Today’s crumbling bike path is tomorrow’s tragedy on the Belt.

  • Bill W

    “Damage has spiked since 1992, when government authorities shored up the beach with tons of sand. Today, almost all of that sand is gone and smothers the wetlands to the east, illustrating why a simple “dump-it-and-forget-it” plan is not only ineffective, but dangerous”

    Really!

    Is that why they are IMPORTING sand to the east in JB to restore the wetlands? They are also IMPORTING sand to White Island! Does he know the sand errosion problem on Barren Island to the east? Does this guy know what he is talking about?

  • Bill W

    “Damage has spiked since 1992, when government authorities shored up the beach with tons of sand. Today, almost all of that sand is gone and smothers the wetlands to the east, illustrating why a simple “dump-it-and-forget-it” plan is not only ineffective, but dangerous”

    Really!

    Is that why they are IMPORTING sand to the east in JB to restore the wetlands? They are also IMPORTING sand to White Island! Does he know the sand errosion problem on Barren Island to the east? Does this guy know what he is talking about?

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Bill: That’s a gross simplification – on my part and yours. Bringing sand in works at some locations. At others it doesn’t. At Plumb Beach it doesn’t. It should also be noted that just because they’re bringing it to those places doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

    Also, Bill, please realize that information comes through me. Please don’t insult my sources like that. I’d prefer you don’t insult anyone, but if you do, always assume that I’m the one that screwed up and incorrectly interpreted his information. I can take it – but sources (that volunteer their time to help me out) shouldn’t have to. Thanks.

  • http://www.NedBerke.com Ned Berke

    Bill: That’s a gross simplification – on my part and yours. Bringing sand in works at some locations. At others it doesn’t. At Plumb Beach it doesn’t. It should also be noted that just because they’re bringing it to those places doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

    Also, Bill, please realize that information comes through me. Please don’t insult my sources like that. I’d prefer you don’t insult anyone, but if you do, always assume that I’m the one that screwed up and incorrectly interpreted his information. I can take it – but sources (that volunteer their time to help me out) shouldn’t have to. Thanks.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    He doesn’t make these decisions. However, I don’t see how sediment recycling can be achieved to the degree necessary to maintain the shore line. Seems to me that the sediment could end up in places where it’s not so easy to retrieve with creating other environmental problems.

    Barren island is a good example of what I am talking about. The sand moves inland and creates a elevation. Undo that and what happens to the phragmites that grow there? Or are we going to start burning them the way they do in other places?

    I’m not a marine scientist so my concerns may well be quite off the mark.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    He doesn’t make these decisions. However, I don’t see how sediment recycling can be achieved to the degree necessary to maintain the shore line. Seems to me that the sediment could end up in places where it’s not so easy to retrieve with creating other environmental problems.

    Barren island is a good example of what I am talking about. The sand moves inland and creates a elevation. Undo that and what happens to the phragmites that grow there? Or are we going to start burning them the way they do in other places?

    I’m not a marine scientist so my concerns may well be quite off the mark.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com/ Gene B.

    Bill, he knows exactly what he’s talking about. The solutions in Jamaica Bay and White Island is different than Plumb Beach.

    Look at the growing sand bars that have formed in Gerritsen Inlet – the littoral drift has transported most of that sterile sand they dropped many years ago east where it has settled in the low lying salt marshland that is now being suffocated by it.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com Gene B.

    Bill, he knows exactly what he’s talking about. The solutions in Jamaica Bay and White Island is different than Plumb Beach.

    Look at the growing sand bars that have formed in Gerritsen Inlet – the littoral drift has transported most of that sterile sand they dropped many years ago east where it has settled in the low lying salt marshland that is now being suffocated by it.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com/ Gene B.

    Lisanne – the problem with Plumb Beach is that the earlier remediation efforts hurt more than helped. The sand that was used was sterile, brought to the area in bags. Absent the necessary nutrients, vegetation was stunted or didn’t grow at all, leaving sand to blow into the salt marsh.

    http://www.nycaudubon.org/takeaction/local/plumb_beach.shtml

    You can see the effects in the photos further down the page – the marsh is significantly smaller, and tidal flow is in imminent danger of being totally cut off.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com Gene B.

    Lisanne – the problem with Plumb Beach is that the earlier remediation efforts hurt more than helped. The sand that was used was sterile, brought to the area in bags. Absent the necessary nutrients, vegetation was stunted or didn’t grow at all, leaving sand to blow into the salt marsh.

    http://www.nycaudubon.org/takeaction/local/plumb_beach.shtml

    You can see the effects in the photos further down the page – the marsh is significantly smaller, and tidal flow is in imminent danger of being totally cut off.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I’ve seen a definite erosion all along that area, though some places it is a bit less than in others.

    Plumb Beach was an island originally. I wonder how landfill has affected the shoreline.

    Though if I remember correctly Barren Island had a serious erosion problem even in the early 1900s.

    Can they bring in sedimented sand from elsewhere?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    I’ve seen a definite erosion all along that area, though some places it is a bit less than in others.

    Plumb Beach was an island originally. I wonder how landfill has affected the shoreline.

    Though if I remember correctly Barren Island had a serious erosion problem even in the early 1900s.

    Can they bring in sedimented sand from elsewhere?

  • Bill W

    Ned- I guess I was thrown by Dr. Psuty’s “The negative impact is far to the east…” His referral to the effects of filling in marsh lands is correct but the much larger problem is the disappearing marshland far to the east in Jamaica Bay. Yes, sand placed by the bathrooms on Plumb Beach does migrate the 3000 feet east to a smaller marsh area. Further to the east: Barren Island, White Island, and JB could use some of that sand. His main point that sand placed anywhere along a shore line as active as Plumb Beach does not stay put is not disputed. Besides a growing sand bar off the #7 Plumb Beach channel buoy, sand is also choking of the entrance to Sheepshead Bay. Sand moves and there are few, if any, permanent solutions other than periodic reshuffling.

  • Bill W

    Ned- I guess I was thrown by Dr. Psuty’s “The negative impact is far to the east…” His referral to the effects of filling in marsh lands is correct but the much larger problem is the disappearing marshland far to the east in Jamaica Bay. Yes, sand placed by the bathrooms on Plumb Beach does migrate the 3000 feet east to a smaller marsh area. Further to the east: Barren Island, White Island, and JB could use some of that sand. His main point that sand placed anywhere along a shore line as active as Plumb Beach does not stay put is not disputed. Besides a growing sand bar off the #7 Plumb Beach channel buoy, sand is also choking of the entrance to Sheepshead Bay. Sand moves and there are few, if any, permanent solutions other than periodic reshuffling.

  • Bill W

    Lisanne – Barren Island is one the Army Corp of Engineers location for restoration. Due to lack of funding, who knows when that will be done. In the meantime, garbage from the 1940′s and 50′s is constantly being exposed and washes into the bay daily.

  • Bill W

    Lisanne – Barren Island is one the Army Corp of Engineers location for restoration. Due to lack of funding, who knows when that will be done. In the meantime, garbage from the 1940′s and 50′s is constantly being exposed and washes into the bay daily.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    So I’ve seen. It’s confusing because I thought they stopped dumping garbage in that area in the 1920s. Where is this garbage actually coming from?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    So I’ve seen. It’s confusing because I thought they stopped dumping garbage in that area in the 1920s. Where is this garbage actually coming from?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I’m not sure how useful this iusm but here’s a historical survey of Jamaica Bay Unit of the park, with historic uses discussed.

    http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/gate/jamaica_bay_hrs.pdf

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    I’m not sure how useful this iusm but here’s a historical survey of Jamaica Bay Unit of the park, with historic uses discussed.

    http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/gate/jamaica_bay_hrs.pdf

  • BillW

    Lisanne – I believe the area west of the toll boths was filled up to the ’50′s. “Bottle beach” and the western shore of Barren Island is being eroded. The sand covering is only about 3-4 feet thick with hosuehold garbage, newspapers, construction fill, and bottles all exposed along the shore.

  • BillW

    Lisanne – I believe the area west of the toll boths was filled up to the ’50′s. “Bottle beach” and the western shore of Barren Island is being eroded. The sand covering is only about 3-4 feet thick with hosuehold garbage, newspapers, construction fill, and bottles all exposed along the shore.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I haven’t been to the part east of the toll booth, but I’ve heard that area was the dumping area back in the 20s and earlier. People used to dig there, so there is probably nothing of any interest left there garbagewise.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    I haven’t been to the part east of the toll booth, but I’ve heard that area was the dumping area back in the 20s and earlier. People used to dig there, so there is probably nothing of any interest left there garbagewise.

  • Anonymous

    Please look back on my comment _”Hurricane hits plumb beach” tyvm

  • clare

    Please look back on my comment _”Hurricane hits plumb beach” tyvm

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  • http://www.facebook.com/techiediva Rachel Phillips

    Debris comes from boats, and sewers to start.
    I literally picked over 50 plastic bottles in a 20 ft radius.

    see this pic on facebook of plumb beach cleanup: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2035440&i

    as they say talk is cheap, so find a beach cleanup in the area

    To help , see American Littorical society for beach cleanups.

    http://www.littoralsociety.org/

  • http://www.facebook.com/techiediva Rachel Phillips

    Debris comes from boats, and sewers to start.
    I literally picked over 50 plastic bottles in a 20 ft radius.

    see this pic on facebook of plumb beach cleanup: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2035440&i

    as they say talk is cheap, so find a beach cleanup in the area

    To help , see American Littorical society for beach cleanups.

    http://www.littoralsociety.org/

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  • Pingback: City Abandons Plumb Beach Ahead Of Hurricane, Puts Belt Parkway At Risk | Sheepshead Bay News Blog