Beach Erosion Project to be Redrawn by June 2010

Palm Beach Post – May 14th, 2010

Palm Beach County expects to have a new design for its Singer Island beach erosion project by June 1, putting the project on track for construction in November.

Modification for the project began early in April, after the original project, which proposed the construction of breakwaters to protect oceanfront properties from beach erosion, was withdrawn in late March.

“We’re an environmental agency, and if we have other environmental agencies telling us our project design would impact an endangered species, we’re going to redesign it,” said Leanne Welch, Palm Beach County’s environmental program supervisor.

Environmental groups objected to the original design, saying that the proposed breakwaters would disrupt sea turtles from navigating to shore and nesting in what is considered a high-density turtle nesting region, as well as accelerate erosion in the beaches south of the project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issues federal environmental permits, suspended review of the application until an alternative design that does not have a negative impact on wildlife is submitted. County environmental officials said it will be ready to resubmit by June 1, and they expect construction to start in November.

The Surfrider Foundation, one of the groups who opposed the breakwaters, was happy the corps encouraged the remodeling of the project.

“We’re pleased to see that they’re on the right side and that they’re looking at this from a scientific point,” said Greg Lyon, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Palm Beach Chapter.

Lyon suggested that instead of installing breakwaters that would cost an estimated $30 million, the county should consider a less costly alternative: a sand transfer plant modeled after the one already existing in the Lake Worth inlet.

It would slow erosion by having sand pumped from the north side of the Jupiter inlet to the south side, he said.

“It’s the most logical and inexpensive approach,” Lyon said.

The county’s budget for the new design, however, will remain at $30 million, a cost that will be shared by the state, city and county.

“The goal of this remodeled project is ultimately to design structures that will protect the beach and will not have down drift impact,” Welch said. “It also won’t negatively impact sea turtles.”

Palm Beach Post – May 14th, 2010