The Bay Foundation practicum team assisted the Bay Foundation in the initial planning stages of the breakwater renovation by researching case studies of previously constructed living breakwaters, making recommendations on the breakwater’s design and materials, conducting research on biodiversity in the area, organizing public outreach events, and creating a visual history of how the breakwater has changed over time as well as facilitating a dialogue between the community and the project.
The Santa Monica Breakwater was originally constructed in the 1930s in order to protect the pier and small boats from wave damage (Human Interactions with Shorelines, 2019). Since its construction, it has been rebuilt several times due to degradation. Damage to man-made structures, such as the pier and breakwater, as well as to surrounding beaches and coastal areas is expected to continue and accelerate as a result of climate related stressors.
The renovated breakwater is intended to provide protection to the coastal infrastructure and ecosystems in the Santa Monica Bay and to help support the rocky intertidal ecosystem. Importantly, The Bay Foundation emphasizes the development of a ‘living’ breakwater, or a structure that provides physical attenuation of wave action while providing habitats for organisms living in the intertidal region. By protecting vital infrastructure and ecosystems, a restored breakwater will provide for local communities by creating economic opportunities, filtering water, sequestering carbon, and driving local food webs.