County asks state for $7.6 million to help ‘critically eroded’ beaches


Palm Beach County has asked the state for about $7.6 million to pay for restoration projects at what have been labeled critically-eroded beaches.

If the state approves the money, the county would match it with about $5.2 million and roughly $2.4 million more provided by impacted coastal cities.

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The money requested from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection would go to eight projects in 2019 and 2020. The three most expensive are: 

  •  $5.6 million for the Southern Palm Beach Island Comprehensive Shore Stabilization Project. It covers about .67 miles of shoreline from South Palm Beach to Lantana Municipal Beach. The money would be used for sand placement and construction of groins, rock piles that help trap sand to sustain the beach. There have been six previous dune restoration projects there from 2003 to 2016. 
  • $647,109 for the Singer Island Shore Protection Project. Money would go to placing sand and native vegetation, and then monitoring the results. There have been eight dune restorations at that location in the past 10 years, according to the county. 
  • $500,000 for the Coral Cove Park Dune Restoration Project. This location is about one mile north of the Jupiter Inlet. The money would pay for adding sand and native vegetation to the dune. The project started in 1989 and the dune was restored in 1993, 2005 and 2013. It suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In the winter of 2013-14, it was rebuilt with about 35,000 tons of sand.

The remaining $830,443 requested would cover other costs, including monitoring and design at the North County Comprehensive Shore Protection Project, the South Lake Worth Inlet Management Plan and the Ocean Ridge Shore Protection Project.

FDEP will determine if the projects are eligible for the money, and if they are, will submit them to the governor and Florida Cabinet as part of a budget request to the state legislature.

The county expects to hear an update on the money in the spring, said Reubin Bishop, a senior environmental analyst with Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management Department. He said if the county doesn’t get the money, decisions on whether to move forward on the projects would be made on a case-by-case basis.

Most of the projects on the list have been ongoing for a while, even as far back as the 1990s, Bishop said, but a storm that brings a lot of erosion could speed up the life cycle of a project. The county asks the state for money yearly, and the amount requested varies on what stage the projects are in.

“A full-size beach nourishment can be upwards of $10 million,” Bishop said. “That’s a lot easier to be able to achieve that when you have a cost share from the state.”

County environmental resources management officials have yet to determine how much, if any, erosion Tropical Storm Gordon brought to Palm Beach County’s beaches this past Labor Day weekend. They planned to go out Tuesday and Wednesday to investigate.

“The only thing I’ve seen so far was erosion that was in the Fort Pierce area,” Bishop said. “It’s hard to say if the conditions that happened there persisted far enough south.”

The county, has 33.6 miles of critically-eroded beach, from Tequesta and Jupiter Inlet Colony to Boca Raton, according to the state’s DEP.



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