Developing shoreline property has been recognized to be directly linked to the deterioration of the health of the river because as much as 90% of the life in the waterways is found around its shallow margins. By building close to the shoreline, developers may make the water unsafe for drinking or swimming.
Traditionally shoreline development meant clearing the natural vegetation, planting a lawn to the water’s edge and even removing rocks and weeds in shallow water. The bare, unstable shore that was left could not withstand the forces of erosion, and the valuable shoreline was slowly eaten away. To stop this process, owners erected retaining walls and back fill, which severed the connection between land and water.
Today there are widely accepted environmentally friendly alternatives to old fashioned shoreline development. Solid docks are being replaced by floating docks which are suspended over the shoreline. A gentler slope, softer materials and natural vegetation are replacing steel and concrete retaining walls. Most importantly, development is moving back from the shore, leaving buffer strips of natural vegetation, 30 to 90 metres wide wherever possible.