Riprap, also known as rip rap, rip-rap, shot rock, rock armor or rubble, is rock or other material used to armor shorelines, stream beds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour and water or ice erosion. It is made from a variety of rock types, commonly granite or limestone, and occasionally concrete rubble from building and paving demolition. It can be used on any waterway or water containment where there is potential for water erosion.
Benefits of Riprap:
- Estuarine communities can develop within the nooks and crannies between the rocks. It creates a shoreline edge that can be used by oysters, crabs, fish, and mangroves
- Protects the land from the erosional force of waves and efficiently absorbs wave energy because it is sloped. That, in turn, reduces turbidity and the resuspension of sediments, thus improving water clarity
- More aesthetically pleasing than a seawall
- Is less costly and requires less maintenance than a seawall
- Provides habitat for mangrove recruitment – riprap benefits are enhanced with mangroves, which also help to reduce stormwater runoff pollution
- If mangroves are already present along a shoreline, riprap can be placed amongst the roots allowing enhanced protection without mangrove destruction.
Already Have a Seawall?
The energy in boat wakes reflects off the perpendicular walls without much absorption of that energy, keeping the water agitated and sediments constantly resuspended. This results in increased turbidity and reduced light penetration through the water column. The vertical nature of a wall prohibits mangrove recruitment and does not provide the substrate necessary for beneficial habitats e.g. oysters reefs, to become established.
Placing riprap (rocks) in front of an existing seawall will alleviate some of the negative environmental impacts of a seawall while lengthening its life by reducing scouring effects at the base of the wall and decreasing the energy of waves pounding into it.
More information on natural shorelines can be found at Florida Living Shorelines.
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