Wavepool Projects in Different Parts of the World Face Hurdles

Barrels from Kelly’s Wavepool | Photo: Kelly Slater Wave Company

Kelly Slater’s proposed wavepool project in Palm Beach, Florida is facing resident opposition while the local government officials remained supportive.

In a My Palm Beach report, Boynton Beach local Chris Lockhart wrote to county commissioners, “I urge you to nip this in the bud and deny the zoning changes rather than using valuable staff time on this. “

He continued, “If you do not, I ask that you direct staff to consider the impacts to Pine Glades Natural Area and other adjacent and nearby conservation lands, impacts on our water resources, etc.”

Another similar plea from Steve C. Stout of Jupiter wrote, “The location in question abuts the Pine Glades natural area. Pine Glades is a water catchment area, which helps regenerate our aquifer and wells. Plus, the human impact of lights and noise — right next to this pristine and costly natural area. This is not a smart decision.”

The opposition to the project is fueled by problems that have been experienced by other man-made wave facilities such as NLand Surf Park located in Austin, Texas. Only one month after beginning operation, NLand had to close for repairs when the lagoon liner got compromised due to some tears caused by surfboard noses and fins. When the water was drained from the lagoon, it caused some flooding on the driveways of the neighbors of the surf park.

Problems like this make Palm Beach County residents uneasy about the idea of having a wavepool built in their area. NLand is however using a different technology from what Kelly Slater’s project is using, but it still worries residents that it may cause the same problems.

This is not the first instance a wavepool project has been opposed by the surrounding community. In Western Australia, an URBNSURF wave park project faced some tough opposition.

And most recently, the same project faced yet another hurdle. Birdwatchers have opposed the project in a recent battle between wavepool supporters and birdwatching aficionados. Despite the backlash from a local coalition of the birding community Alfred Cove Action Group, government officials approved the lease by URBNSURF Perth, a wavepool project powered by WaveGarden technology. URBNSURF was granted a 30-year lease of 44,065 square meters of land at Tompkins Park.

Artist’s Rendition of URBNSURF wave pool | Photo Credit: URBNSURF

“We’d like to sincerely thank our countless supporters, friends, family and followers for the belief and resolve they’ve demonstrated over the past eight months,” URBNSURF wrote on their Facebook page.” As proud Western Australians and lifelong surfers, we’re grateful for the opportunity to make surfing safer, more convenient and accessible to Perth’s residents and visitors,” they continued. “Many thanks again to everyone for their continued support, and here’s to pumping out consistent barrels in Perth soon!”

In response, the Alfred Cove Action Group wrote on their Facebook page, “The Melville City Council is getting terrible advice in regard to its proposal for a Wave Park at Tompkins Park. It will be an environmental disaster, all four hectares (44,065 sqm) of it. It’s so close to the river you can throw an empty Coke can from it into the river.”

But the proposed Perth URBNSURF wave park is far from becoming a reality. While it has gotten past this hurdle, there are more approvals they need to secure from eight other regulatory agencies, which include the Minister of Environment. But it is one step closer than where it was before, after their recent victory.

The idea of having perfect waves in land-locked locations continues to gather polarized opinions from supporters and non-supporters. Do you support or oppose these man-made wavepool projects? Share your thoughts with us below!

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