Waterfront Erosion Control

Certain parts of the Puget Sound shoreline are subject to high rates of erosion. Areas with high banks, areas adjacent to open water, and areas subject to prevailing winds can erode over 10 feet in a single year. Such areas are often important feeders of sediment for our beaches. We can inadvertently accelerate this erosion by clearing shorefront areas, altering marshes, building close to the shoreline, and by boating.

Shoreline and streambank erosion control share many of the same techniques. Structural solutions to shoreline erosion control, such as rock bulkheads, can be expensive, work with varying success, and can cause erosion along other parts of the shoreline. Vegetative planting is less expensive and, in many situations, can be just as effective as structural solutions. Vegetation cannot provide protection in severe exposure and requires more maintenance and protection from human disturbance. In your planning, again recognize that erosion is a natural process with some real benefits. Your goal should be to stop excessive erosion.

  • the shoreline is adjacent to less than three miles of open water,

  • there is more than four hours of sunlight daily,

  • there is a minimum distance of ten feet between the toe of the bank and the high tide line, and

  • the soil is sandy.


    If the shorefront meets these conditions, vegetative planting may be a feasible alternative to structural erosion control. Only a few tolerant plants will grow in this shoreline zone. Each plant has its natural place in the shoreline environment. Get expert technical advice before attempting to plant along the shoreline in your area.

  • Contact the Department of Fisheries Volunteer Fisheries Resource Program at (206) 586-3944 for information about incubating salmon eggs in your local classrooms and about other stream enhancement projects.

  • Ask your local government these questions – “Is it possible to use less asphalt, more pervious surfaces?”- -“Why not let that roadside vegetation grow to reduce runoff rates and filter pollutants rather than cut it down?”

  • Financial assistance for farmers wishing to reduce water pollution is available from the Department of Ecology, call (206) 459-6067 for information.
Getting Out on the Sound – Good Boating Practices