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Beach erosion may be contributing to dangerous swim conditions at Jacob Riis Park, some experts say. Here's why.

Experts say erosion can intensify dangerous swimming conditions in New York
Experts say erosion can intensify dangerous swimming conditions in New York 01:58

NEW YORK - Beach erosion may be contributing to dangerous swimming conditions at Jacob Riis Park in Queens, and experts say common solutions come with consequences.

Bonnie Siegel knows Jacob Riis beach.

"I'm 73. I've been coming here since I'm 20," she said.

But this year, she's noticing there's less of it.

"The sand has eroded," she said.

Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers replenished the beach with 360,000 cubic yards of sand. Much of it washed away in the off season.

Some experts say erosion can intensify the dangerous swimming conditions that we've seen result in drownings in recent weeks, which led the National Park Service to close sections of the beach at Jacob Riis Park, with no plans to reopen them this summer.

What is causing beach erosion at Jacob Riis?

Partially to blame for the erosion, experts say, may be nearby beach restoration projects.

While Jacob Riis Park is federally operated, the adjacent city-owned shoreline in the Rockaways is undergoing a years-long fortification, which has seen the construction and rehabilitation of 19 groins, known as jetties, to hold sand in place.

Dr. John Fletemeyer, executive director of the Aquatic Law and Safety Institute, says well-intentioned rehabilitation can inadvertently push problems further down the beach.

"You have beach accretion, the building up of sand, on one side of the jetty or groin and then erosion on the other side," he said.

That erosion can contribute to sandbar formation, he says, with water channels where rip currents can form.

The Army Corps of Engineers told CBS New York it can build groins at Jacob Riis beach if the National Park Service requests it. The National Park Service said that it is actively pursuing beach preservation options.

In the face of climate change, Bonnie Siegel worries for the future of the beach she loves.

"It's very sad," she said.

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