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Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes

Concrete, Stone and Steel Shorelines

Shoreline with rocks

Structures made out of rock, concrete, metal and other materials were once commonly used when it was thought that the only way to combat erosion was to take a hard and aggressive approach.  People began putting in concrete break walls, gabion baskets and riprap (loose stones along the shore). These structures do work well in the short term to prevent erosion, but they ultimately do much more harm than good. 

What Happens when You Harden Your Shoreline?

Cemet retaining wall in a lake

Hardened shorelines deflect wave energy instead of absorbing it – the energy is deflected to the sides, passing the erosion problem on to neighbouring sites and down and scouring away any sediment or plant life near the base of the wall. These structures remove the natural shoreline environment, eliminating food and habitat for animals in and out of the water.

Softening a Retaining Wall

If your shoreline has been hardened with a retaining wall that is in good condition, restore or plant a strip of deep-rooted vegetation along the top of the wall; this will help filter runoff before it enters the water and reduces the risk of erosion by holding the soil together.

For more information on how to deal with retaining walls contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

You will need to obtain a permit to retire your retaining wall

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