Gulf Intercoastal Waterway Shoreline Stabilization:

When completed in 1949, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) was 125 feet wide with a depth of 12 feet.   It has since widened to 700-800 feet on much of the Bolivar Peninsula due to erosion of the shorelines caused by vessel wakes. This has resulted in the loss of thousands of acres of valuable, productive salt marsh. Eroding wetlands soils fill the ICW, necessitating frequent dredging.

Aerial imagery of ICW, 1974

Aerial Imagey of Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, 1974

Aerial Image of ICW, 2008

Aerial Imagery of Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, 2008


This project seeks to research and document the extent of land loss along the ICW and establish a multiagency task force to focus on the stabilization of canal banks to prevent the erosion of marsh areas on the Peninsula allowing for more sustainable land use in the future and a more natural environment for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.  The project will protect private and public properties from future erosion and mitigate storm-related damage.

Image of Erosion along ICW Near Caplan     Image of Erosion along the ICW Near Rollover Pass

Comparative Imagery of the ICW near Caplen(left) and Rollover Pass(right) showing the shoreline in 1995 (Green Line) VS Current Shoreline


Stabilizing the shoreline will prevent the loss of critical habitat and private and public lands (including adjacent to residential properties) and decrease need for maintenance dredging and the resultant spoils handling and disposal.  In addition to protecting residential property and some agricultural land, wildlife habitat that has been threatened by erosion will be protected and restored. 


Methods to consider for shoreline stabilization include:

Place rock armoring along the ICW adjacent to eroding shoreline. Backfill and restore wetland areas with dredge spoil where possible. Similar projects have been successfully constructed in Jefferson County, TX and numerous other locations along the 1050 miles of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.


More than 25 miles of canal shoreline require some degree of stabilization, however, this project can readily be approached in phases.  PenDeCo will not undertake this project, but will partner with several other organizations to accomplish the task of reducing or eliminating land loss along the ICW on Bolivar Peninsula.