(AQP) Aquia Landing Beach

Location: Potomac River, Stafford County, Virginia

Site Parameters
  • Coast Type: Headland
  • Body of Water: Potomac River
  • Shore Direction of Face: East South East
  • Shore Type: Beach/Marsh
  • Average Shore Height: 3 feet
  • Average Fetch: 4 nautical miles
  • Distance to 6ft Contour: 1200 feet
  • Date Installed: March 1987
  • Type: Headland Breakwaters
  • Number of Breakwaters: 4
  • Number of Bays: 5

Land Use: Public Beach
Ownership: County owned
Problem: Severe deterioration of county beach with failing groins and washovers across a very low upland shore zone
Project purpose: Shore protection, recreational beach and replace beach hazard from deteriorating groins.


Prior to the project installation, the county beach was severely deteriorated with failing groins and washovers across a very low upland shore zone. Long fetch exposures to the southeast of over 7 nautical miles and northeast of over 4 nm made the site vulnerable to storm damage. Dominant northwest wind-driven waves and northeasters create a generally unidirectional wave exposure coming down the Potomac River. With partial funding from the Virginia Board on Conservation and Development of Public Beaches, a breakwater and beach fill project was installed in 1987. The project covered 1,200 ft of shoreline and consisted of 700 ft of stone revetment, four 110 ft headland breakwaters with 20,000 cy of beach fill bounded on each end by spurs. Downdrift impacts were considered negligible due to low marsh composition and property ownership being the same as the breakwater system. The design utilized the shore morphology of the existing groin field to determine tangential beach orientation. The Static Equilibrium Bay (SEB) model was then applied to assess the predicted beach planforms for the headland breakwater systems. The pocket beach configurations have been stable since installation. In fact, during the three years after the installation of the project, the overall volume of beach material within the monitoring area had not changed. The wide, flat, shallow nearshore has allowed submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) to expand at the site in the last 10 years. This has likely helped maintain a stable nearshore during storm events.

View this location on the Breakwaters Map

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