Long Beach Breakwater System


  • Jillian Butt


The Long Beach breakwater structure is located in Long Beach, California. It is one of three breakwater structures that span 13.4 kilometers along the shoreline. These breakwater structures were constructed by the US army to protect naval ships in World War II. Recently, this breakwater system has received attention from the community questioning its relevance after the war. Breakwater structures reduce the intensity of wave action on the shoreline, and reduce erosion. They also provide a defence against possible storm waves. They are typically designed to absorb the wave’s energy by using mass or with the use of a slope. The Long Beach breakwater structure is known as a rubble mound breakwater, constructed of rockfill for a span of 4 kilometers. This helps to protect low-lying property and structures along the coast line. Although breakwater systems reduce the energy of waves, they also have adverse effects on the shoreline. They prevent the sea’s natural circulation which causes sedimentation and poor water quality. This has the people of Long Beach interested in the removal of the breakwater as they want cleaner beaches in an effort to increase tourism. The following paper will outline the community’s main arguments to remove the breakwater, design principals of rubble mound breakwater systems, the need for these systems, and the adverse effects they have on the environment. It will also look at the results of the initial reconnaissance study conducted by the engineering firm. In this study, the engineering firm determined a rough estimate of the cost of the project, as well as the possibilty of profits for the city if they reconfigure the breakwater structure.






Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)