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

Updated Sept 04, 2018
File photo of waves crashing upon the rock jetties on the beach just south of the Boynton Inlet in Ocean Ridge. The fixtures, which are called T-groins, were installed by the county to help protect the shoreline from erosion. (Brandon Kruse/The Palm Beach Post)

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: 

The Coral Cove Park Dune Restoration Project. (Handout: Palm Beach County) Photo: Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

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.