Protecting our Coasts: Atlantic Reefmaker Wave Attenuator System Reducing Coastal Erosion

Protecting our Coasts: Atlantic Reefmaker Wave Attenuator System Reducing Coastal Erosion

Atlantic Reefmaker, W3 Engineering’s innovative wave attenuation system was installed as part of the Atlantic Harbor maintenance dredging and living shoreline project to provide protection of the commercial fishing harbor channel using innovative nature-based engineering solutions.

RALEIGH, NC – October 20, 2020 – W3 Engineering, a coastal and environmental engineering firm with expertise in environmental planning, engineering, coastal management, and unmanned aircraft systems, has designed and help install the Atlantic Reefmaker, a living shoreline wave attenuation system, to help mitigate coastal erosion as part of the Carteret County’s and the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Atlantic Harbor maintenance dredging and living shoreline project.

The Atlantic Harbor project is funded primarily from a $1.1 million grant the North Carolina Coastal Federation obtained in 2018 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Carteret County, North Carolina to build living shorelines. The Coastal Federation, has promoted and built living shorelines for years as a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to bulkheads, jetties and other hard structures to prevent shoreline erosion and channel shoaling.

The Atlantic Reefmaker System is installed on the seaward side of openings in a granite rock sill (living shoreline) that was constructed around White Point, in Core Sound, just offshore from Atlantic Harbor. The openings in the structures allow fish to pass through the rock sill, which, along with planted vegetation, provides habitat for non-sessile life, such as fish, and a surface for oysters and other sessile life to attach.

The Atlantic Reefmaker is comprised of six individual concrete disks stacked on a 12” diameter composite fiberglass pile. A total of six units were installed. The concept is a water flow-through wave attenuation technology that dissipates wave energy in three ways: (1) wave energy reflects back into open water from the front face of the structure; (2) wave energy collisions occur along the sides of the octagonal structure; and, (3) water energy dissipates as it’s directed through the system.

The legs on the water-facing front side of the structure of the Ecodisks tray directs water to the fiberglass piling. The piling speeds up the wave energy, and when the water reaches the ‘landward’ side of the structure, the water exits the structure. The wave energy dissipates because the flow is no longer concentrated, and, if there is sediment in the water column, the sediment drops out and accretes on the shoreline.

“Our wave attenuators are designed to limit the wave energy that causes erosion and siltation in high wave-energy environments. We’re confident these attenuators will perform well and provide a permanent solution to erosion in this ecosystem and we appreciate the opportunity to work on this critical Atlantic Harbor project, which benefits a community that relies on a sound and stable coast for both commercial and recreational activities,” said Randy Boyd, principal of W3 Engineering.

“We are thrilled to finally work with W3 Engineering to demonstrate the use of Atlantic Reefmaker in living shoreline construction in North Carolina,” said Dr. Lexia Weaver, Coastal Scientist at the Coastal Federation. “We have another tool in the toolbox now to help reduce shoreline erosion and create valuable habitat in our estuaries.”

About North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is a member-supported non-profit that focuses on protecting and restoring the North Carolina coast. Since 1982, the federation has been in the field restoring miles of coastline; training and educating students, adults and communities to take actions that result in cleaner coastal waters and advocating for an accessible, healthy, productive coast.

Created to give a united voice to the need for long-term coastal management, the federation remains a collaborative, grassroots organization at its heart and brings together traditional and nontraditional organizations, government agencies and businesses in order to achieve what is best for the North Carolina coast and to leave a legacy of clean water for future generations. The federation has 16,000 supporters and reaches almost 300,000 people directly each year.

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Media contact:
W3 Engineering
Cris Masselle