A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Storm Disturbs Whale Creek Watershed, Further Erodes Bayshore at Cliffwood Beach

I took a walk down to the Cliffwood Beach seawall this morning via the service road off Greenwood Avenue. I received some messages on the blog that the beachfront was eroding, so I wanted to see for myself.

Tidal stream from Treasure Lake is backing up near service road.
Tidal stream leading to Whale Creek appears blocked near service road.
Tidal stream is diverting into the woodlands on the right and beginning to cross the service road that it normally passes under. The beach, in background, is remarkably flat given the remains of dune that used to be there.
Looking back at the service road with my back to the bay, the tidal stream can be seen diverting towards the shore, creating a stream as it emerges from the reeds and flows onto the pathway.

What struck me first was the flooding on the right side of the service road. A tidal stream seems to be blocked that connects Treasure Lake with Whale Creek. The stream is supposed to cross under the service road and allow tidal shifts to happen smoothly. That stream is now backed up and the water is seeking its level. The water is diverting in a number of ways" 1) it is crossing the roadway; 2) it is diverting towards Greenwood Avenue, flooding the woodland area behind houses on Greenwood Avenue and West Concourse; and 3) it is diverting towards the beach, creating new stream patterns that have yet to resolve. We will soon lose woodland and have more reeds and swampland, an undesirable outcome. The standing water is already breeding flying bugs and will become a concern for the Monmouth County Mosquito Commission soon enough.

The shoreline itself looks stripped of more sand. Recent storms with winds that forced unusually high tides inland are the likely culprits. I'm not convinced that dunes would have helped; they mostly washed away the last time we faced this combination of weather.
Water is pooling behind the seawall near the Treasure Lake overview. Erosion will eventually undermine the macadam path.

The land just above the seawall has signs of erosion that could undermine the macadam path near the Treasure Lake overview. Accumulated water is likely from recent rainstorm but could be indicative of tidal  erosion as well.

Maybe all this damage could prompt some state or federal funding for beach renewal? If you're interested in supporting preservation and access to the Raritan Bay shoreline, you will want to read today's opinion piece by Liz Roberts in the Asbury Park Press. She says it much better than I could.


  1. Pat,

    Before the storms, a walk down the service road yielded a surprised muskrat who was crossing the road. It was a pure delight and a key indicator of wetland quality, as these rodents are among the last to leave a viable wetland before its transformation into a swamp.

    I'm not sure Liz Roberts was aware of how many towns are in the process of building on wetlands and near wetlands when she wrote of the need to protect the Raritan estuary.

    Aberdeen Township's dedication to new development in the Salem Place area of Cliffwood is sure to increase the flooding and "swampification" of the areas leading to the Raritan Bay. The roadway improvement projects planned for the near future to address the current flooding issues may help or exacerbate the degree of environmental friendliness.

    Since we don't really have an urban planner/manager solutions seem to be hit or miss (mostly miss). When the reeds die, the muskrats leave. That's when you know its time to move on.

  2. Thanks for the kind words regarding my op ed piece. I did not know how bad the erosion problems were along with a few other issues the bay area is having. If you need any help, whether drafting petitions or organizing protests , feel free to contact me at LIZRWRITER@aol.com.

  3. Our area is so ecologically delicate. We should find someone who can document the consequences of either developement or neglect on our wetlands. (Preferrably someone academic, they're cheaper.) I'm sure our area's effects reach well into Cheasequake State Park and the Garden State Parkway. An amplifcation of our findings might attract funds from the state to set things right.