|Beach Renourishment: Our Beach is Our Economy & |
Our Front Line
By Chip LaMarca, Broward County Commissioner
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is important for us to come together to assist all of those who were affected by this storm. I believe that much of the devastation in the northeast is due to the fact that they do not prepare as we do here in South Florida. All of us that were here at the time remember the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, which brought about vast changes in how we build here in South Florida, eventually serving as a model for the state in the Florida Building Code.
We all know too well that storms are unpredictable. While it is very important for us to remain vigilant, there is one area where we cannot prepare in the short term and that is our beaches. You have heard me mention the importance of our beaches before and it is something I cannot stress enough, not only because 75 percent of Broward’s coastline is in my district, but because our beaches along with the Everglades are our greatest natural resource. They are also our greatest economic driver in Broward County. I have the pleasure of representing the coastal Cities, Towns and Villages of Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Pompano Beach, Sea Ranch Lakes, Lauderdale-By-the-Sea, and Fort Lauderdale. All of whom will benefit from the Segment II Beach Renourishment Project.
If you have been following the process you know that the “Segment II Project” has been extensively studied and is currently on schedule to begin in December 2013. Our beaches in the Segment II area are in greater need of sand following Hurricane Sandy. We are all familiar with the images of sand piled up along A1A on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
After much debate and review, our County staff has concluded that the use of an upland sand source (from a commercial upland sand mine) is the preferred and most likely feasible sand source for the Segment II project. While this is more expensive, it is the opinion of all concerned that the environmental constraints, known regulatory difficulties and community concerns with offshore sand justify this approach. It is our hope to continue to make this a federally reimbursable project. This means that Broward County would have to front the money for the project. Our County Administrator and staff have prepared for this and these funds currently exist in a protected Beach Renourishment Reserve Fund within the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a process in which this commissioner worked hard to protect and the County Commission supported unanimously.
Project considerations have included:
- Sand Quality – Upland sand is higher quality in terms of composition, average grain size (larger than offshore), less fine materials (silts and clays) and color. Higher quality sand should lead to reduced environmental impact (turbidity and sedimentation), greater durability, and a longer lasting beach.
- Regulatory Feasibility – Obtaining permits for use of offshore sand is expected to be more difficult than for an upland source. Using an upland source reduces the risk that the planned action would be challenged, which results in time delays, higher cost and ultimately a possible denial of the permits.
- Project Construction – Using the upland source sand will be brought in by truck to the nourishment site. We are working with staff on the possibility of using rail to move the sand south, and truck from a closer location. Construction of Segment II must occur during non-nesting season for marine turtles.
- Project Costs – Initial cost estimates are $38M vs. $44M for an offshore vs. upland sand source project, however these are converging because tighter regulatory requirements for offshore projects are increasing project costs and an upland project requires less material.
- Funding – The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers may conclude that the use of upland sand is a locally preferred alternative. If so, this could reduce the amount of reimbursement for which the County may be eligible. However, there are State funds that can be used for this type of project, if appropriated. In the past two legislative sessions, I have been working with the Florida Legislature to make sure that this project is included in that funding. Each of the three Segment II Cities (Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Fort Lauderdale) have also pledged to appropriate dollars towards the effort.
Our target is still to start the project following the end of sea turtle nesting season next year (December 2013). The regulatory agencies are processing the permit applications and the target for obtaining the permits is next summer. We are working through the Federal coordination process to enter into a Project Participation Agreement providing for Federal reimbursement, and have applied for state funding for the project. The consultant is currently developing plans and specs for the project.
Obviously this is a priority for me as the District Commissioner and I have received unanimous support from my fellow commissioners in moving this project forward. This project has been stalled for far too long and our beaches have suffered greatly.
I never lose sight of what is important. That is you, the residents of our beautiful district. If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay updated by viewing our website broward.org/commission/district4, as well as signup to receive email updates from us.
As always, it is an honor to serve you.