Breakwall & Bulkhead Alternative: Riprap Shoreline
Some concerned owners of lakefront property call Lakeshore Guys® and say something like, “I’ve got a breakwall that’s crumbling and I need it replaced.” At that point I always explain how it’s tough or impossible to replace a crumbling breakwall or bulkhead wall, and usually unwise to do so even if you could.
3 reasons for that:
1. The Department of Natural Resources rarely allows the construction of break walls anymore. To build one anyway is illegal.
2. On the off-chance the DNR allows you to build a breakwall, you’d need to get a permit first, which means you need “friends” in the right places. Also, by the time your project is approved (a big “if”), you won’t have much shoreline left, and you won’t be too interested in a breakwall anymore. It can be a long and exasperating process.
3. A riprap shoreline is much more effective at preventing shoreline erosion than is a breakwall or bulkhead.
But a good riprap shoreline – similar to an earthquake-resistant building in Japan – has built-in flexibility. That’s why riprap is the best (and only) breakwall alternative, if your goal is to prevent shoreline erosion. You may also have heard riprap called riprap wall, seawall, revetment, or hard stabilization. See our page on “Armored Shorelines” to see exactly how we engineer the toughest riprap shorelines on earth.