Professional Opinion from Dr Yaakov Nir

Dr Yaakov Nir
Geological Sea and Beach Consultant

Professional Opionion
Promenade on “Zvulun Beach”, North of the Marina

The “Herzliya Municipal Tourism Development Company” has started works on the beach, apparently to build a promenade at the back of the sandy beach “Zvulun”, north of the Herzliya Marina, to the length of 500m.  This is according to building permit 20110290 that was given to me.

In the southern section, from the edge of the sandy beach to the foot of the cliffs and part of the hotels, exists a sea-wall built from stone that will be used as tayelet.  This wall is built in a part of the beach protected by the northern breakwater, in the northern part of the sandbar of the breakwater.  The wall also ends here, and from the foot of the Okeanos hotel and further North, to the Zvulun Beach and Cliff Towers, no wall exists.  The beach in the northern area is narrow, such that during storms, and even not especially strong ones, the wave water grazes the cliff base or aforementioned buildings on the beach.  Along the rear of this beach, the Municipality intends to build an extension of the tayelet.

I will refer to the facts gathered from my visit to the area on 20.7.12, based on the permit given to me, and of course on my significant familiarity with the place and this topic (I have worked in the maritime field for over 40 years).  Additionally, I’ll relate to the documents produced by the engineer Leonardo Shtedler, which deal with, amongst other things, the effects of the tayelet construction on the beach and maritime environment, attached as Appendix A to my opinion.

Picture 1.  The stone-built wall in the area south of the Okeanos Hotel, that will be the base of the new Beach Promenade.  (27/7/2012, Y. Nir)

Herzliya Beaches – General Background

The Herzliya Beaches are, for the last 20 years, not in the best shape, and this is a direct consequence of the construction of the Marina, located south of the beaches.  To the planners of the Marina, it was clear that the beaches north of it would suffer destruction – as a result of the “imprisonment” of large amounts of sand from the south and from the marina itself, and on the other hand, from the waves breaking on the edge of the main breakwater of the marina, which as a result have assaulted the adjacent and northern beaches.  In order to protect this beach, a system of 3 separated breakwaters were built, parallel to the beach line.  Here, just like in many other beaches where separated breakwaters were built, sand “tongues” have accumulated between the beach and the breakwaters, resembling  triangles or trapezes (a sandspit or sandbar, respectively).  This additional sand accumulation has caused to a major sand deficit in the adjacent beaches, north of the breakwaters.  As a consequence of the marina and the breakwaters, the center and northern beaches are in a constant deficit of sand, and time, despite all expectations, has not “done it’s duty” to rehabilitate the beaches (this determination is based on, amongst others, the annual beach width measurement over six years, from 2002 until 2007 (inclusive), at the end of autumn, the time the beaches are at their widest, and at the same points).

Picture 2: Zvulun Beach during a storm in recent years, flooded by powerful waves. On the right, the Cliff Towers which frequently suffers from storms. There is no doubt that the comparison between Zvulun Beach and the southern Tal Baruch Beach, that was made by the engineer Leonardo Shtedler in his report to the Herzliya Municipality from 12/7/2012 is not realistic. It would have been more prudent to make a comparison with the “religious beach” south of the Marina. (Picture courtesy of the “Greens”, Herzliya branch).

The Planned Tayelet

The current permit’s plan to extend the existing tayelet, along a roughly 250m stretch in the city’s central beaches, known for being narrow, show plans for massive construction on the sandy beaches, and the use of heavy building materials for various elements of the tayelet pathway, stairs, walls, etc.  In fact, this particular tayelet easily falls under the definition of a “sea wall”.

Sea walls of the type planned, built from stone or concrete, will cause, without a shadow of a doubt, increased sand washout of beach sand from in front of the walls, and not only in winter storms, but even from regular waves during periods of relative quiet.

The author of these lines is bewildered that in the year 2012, the Municipality of Herzliya, which is considered to be a modern and progressive city, has not internalized these established facts regarding the effects of hard construction on the beach and on the cliffs, the consequences of which will be very severe.  The author is likewise surprised at the failure to mention the obvious conclusions from the destruction caused by the sea wall at the “religious beach” in the southern beaches, conclusions that say: It’s enough, we cannot continue to build sea walls, for these reasons.  The religious beach, south of what was in the past the “disabled beach”, where the last stone and concrete sea wall was built, has to be used as a model to warn against these types of construction in general, and in Herzliya in particular.  It has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that this system has to be ruled out in advance, because of the destruction it causes, destruction which in some cases is irreversible (for example, the destruction of the cliff at the back of the beach, building destruction, etc).

Finally, I have to point out that in engineer L. Shtedlers memorandum to the Herzliya Municipality from 2012/7/12, “Herzliya Beach Promenade – Stage 2, Outlook and Planning”, the author indicates, in article D, that there will be a need to “cooperative monitor the tayelet to determine the need to disperse sand…” and continues “…the transfer and dispersal of large quantities of sand”.  Actually, the author is admitting that it is very likely that a situation will develop where the beach sand disappears, and as such, there will be a need to artificially nourish the sand, amongst other places, from “the creation of reservoir from sand from the North (?, Y. Nir) to an overland area at the Marina…”.  If he’s referring to the sand that was moved from the Marina’s foundations during it’s construction, found now in the southern section, I have to emphasize that this sand is not, under any circumstances whatsoever, compatible to be dispersed on the beach, since this sand contains floor hardware, concrete shards, and other materials that do not belong on a sandy beach.  In the past, there was an idea to transport sand for artificial nourishment, but from the sea, not from overland.  Consequently, I have to point out that the artificial nourishment of sand is incredibly costly, and as such, everything possible must be done to ensure that the existing beach sand will not be damaged by hard construction, especially in the scope planned, and as such, avoid the need to discuss artificial nourishment at all.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  1. There is no doubt that the general negative state of the sand in Herzliya was influenced by the marina and it’s extensions – the three separated breakwaters to it’s north.  As such, these are beaches which are especially sensitive to any further construction.
  2. It’s the responsibility of governmental agencies, and at their head, the Minister of Environmental Protection and/or the “Committee of Beach Preservation’ which is part of the Interior Ministry, to demand an environmental survey to assess environmental impact before facts will be determined on the ground   As a corollary,  no work must be approved before such a survey is submitted and approved, a survey which must be written by professional agents with no vested interest in the project, and of course, be checked by other professionals.
  3. If indeed the municipality has already started working, these works must be halted immediately until completion of the above process.
  4. The use of heavy materials such as stone and concrete to build a promenade must be ruled out in advance because of their destructive consequences to the beach in front of it.  Consequences which will result in the disappearance of the beach sand (a point which is not lost on the planning engineer) for long periods during the winter and even in other periods (depending on the strength and frequency of sea storms).  If this sand disappears, future storms will damage the base of the tayelet, resulting in it’s use becoming dangerous! 
  5. Even the planner, engineer Leonardo Shtedler concedes that the work will result in the beach sands being swept away into the sea, and as such, suggests the artificial nourishment of the sand (from an “overland source” or from “the area behind the separated breakwaters”).  It’s agreed by all that the tayelet, as is currently planned, will greatly damage the beach, on the one hand since the waterline will encroach it and the waves will break against it and cover it, and on the other hand, since (possibly only in winter) artificial sand nourishment will be required which is no cheap process.
  6. The other idea floating around is that if the beach regularly disappears, the tayelet should be protected by a new separated breakwater system, and this idea is anachronistic.  This idea is blind, delusional, and will harm the beaches to the north of the breakwasters, and there will be serious additional landscape polution to the beaches of the city that is pretending to “develop tourism in Herzliya”.  Additionally, there is no shadow of a doubt that the “next stage” that will come after is the addition of breakwaters because of the destruction of the beach, the ones located further north, and at the end of this ‘domino effect’, Herzliya’s beaches will be nothing but stone beaches (not to mention the high costs and the danger of drowning for swimmers and boats caused by the breakwaters, and the many other problems they cause).

Dr Yaakov Nir,
Rehovot, 24/7/2012

From the SaveZvulun team, for your convience:

Pictures of the “Religious Beach“, showing the remains of the beach following the construction of the sea wall in 2009.  Most of the year there’s no beach at all:

Pictures of Dado Beach in Haifa, showing the remains of the beach following the construction of the tayelet there.  Obviously the gazebos were once far away from the shoreline:

Zvulun Beach, during the storm of Winter 2010:

You can also read the original Hebrew text of the report: חווה דעת מקצועית מד”ר יעקב ניר

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