The evening of September 1st, 2006 was one that left an indelible impression on the minds of Bob and Chris White. That day Hurricane Ernesto roared up the Chesapeake and nearly cut their bay front property located at 270 Ingram Bay in Heathsville, Virginia in half. "I can't believe how powerful the water was," said Mr. White, "Our home office was knocked off its foundation, the pool was full of mud and debris, and the water had risen over our tennis court and was threatening the house." Subsequent storms have continued to wreak havoc and do additional damage.
The Whites have tried several solutions to solve their problems: bulkheads; stone revetments and five wooden groins. None of these options did much to quell the ongoing erosion. Over four years ago The Whites came across a promising solution after many hours of searching the internet; Beach Prisms™. Mr. White was drawn to the shape of its parabolic curve, a structure he was familiar with from his years of working with blast technology and hydrodynamics. He knew the design would have a good chance of deflecting the destructive forces of wave action.
Several years of working through the permitting process led the White's representative and the product's manufacturer, Smith-Midland Corporation (SMC), to a final approval meeting in front of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), on the morning of August 23rd, 2011 in Newport News. John Klein, a consulting coastal engineer working with SMC, presented statistical data to the VMRC representing 20 years of Beach Prism installations and testing. The board voted 11-0 in favor of the permit.
The installation at the Whites began early in the morning of Saturday, the 1st of October. Tractor trailers traveling from the SMC plant transferred the Beach Prisms in 5 loads to a waiting barge. Omega Protein in Reedville, VA provided free use of their dock facilities. The full installation consisted of 22 pieces of Beach Prism (4'x4'x10') with 6 inch spacing for a total of approximately 230 feet of protection. Each piece of Beach Prism was placed parallel to the beach in approximately 1 foot of water at low tide. Installation was completed by Sunday afternoon the 2nd. The Whites hope that this will finally give them some relief from storm damage and either slow the rate of erosion, stop erosion or reverse the erosion by replenishing sand in front of and behind the Prisms. The estimated value of the project is $33,000.
Beach Prisms is a permeable, precast concrete product that works by reducing the amount of energy in incoming waves before the waves reach the shoreline. Waves pass through the specially designed slots in the triangular 3 - 4 foot tall by 10 foot long Beach Prisms.
According to Jay McKenna, Beach Prisms regional sales manager for Smith-Midland. “Beach Prisms™ is a natural way to protect beach properties. The slotted design allows water to flow through, while dissipating the energy of the waves, thus reducing the impact they have on the shoreline. Open natural design also allows for marine life such as fish and turtles to also migrate freely. Beach Prisms™ have been proven in some cases to build back lost shoreline, by accumulating sand in front of and behind the Prisms.”
Beach Prisms are for river- and bay-front property owners who want an alternative to traditional armor stone, or groins and jetties. They are jointly permitted by state and federal agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Smith-Midland Corporation is a publicly traded company (OTC BB: SMID, SMIWC; Boston Stock Exchange: SMM, SMM/W). Smith-Midland develops, manufactures and sells a broad array of precast concrete products for use primarily in the construction, transportation and utilities Industries. Smith-Midland has two manufacturing facilities located in Midland, Va. and Reidsville, N.C. Easi-Set Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of Smith-Midland Corporation, licenses the production of Smith-Midland developed products around the world. For more information please call (540) 439-3266 or visit www.smithmidland.com or www.beachprisms.com.