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Beach researchers presenting idea to cut costs, save lives in building back Fort Myers Beach

Posted on February 13, 2023

Fort Myers Beach Town Council taking important steps Monday in revitalizing the beach and Estero Island.

Council approved beach nourishment plans, including the placement of emergency berms to ease future flooding. But not everyone is on board with the plan at hand.

“There’s over 200,000 yards of erosion that occurred on the beach.”

It’s an issue plaguing the Town of Fort Myers Beach for months since Hurricane Ian.

“The presentation, the emergency berm, and Estero Island nourishment projects status.”

A project that will see sand trucked in from an inland sand line. A plan not everyone is on board with.“We want to be very cautionary about these projects,” says Dr. John Fletemeyer, Executive Director of the Aquatic Law and Safety Institute. “Noting, that if you do change the profile of the beach, you are more likely than not to cause more rip currents. Which are definitely an extreme public safety hazard.”

Dr. John Fletemeyer has been studying beach nourishment for close to 40 years. One of his concerns is adding too much sand to the beach, and changing its profile.

“What happens when water rushes up a high profile beach, it tends to rush back and that’s basically fuel for a rip current.”

A problem— that could be avoided— if the council were to choose a different nourishment plan.

“We’re bringing the sand that’s sitting out here, that’s created out there,” says Don Justice, Principal of Ecoplage US. “We’re bringing it to the beach and putting it on the beach where people can see it.”

The technology Justice is talking about is running a pipeline under the beach that would, in a way, recycle sand.

“Every wave that’s breaking out here right now has a little bit of sand in it,” he says. “When it breaks, that water that recedes and takes the sand back with, part of that water goes thru into this pipe.”

And it’s working in other parts of the world.

“We licensed this technology from Ecoplage France,” says Justice. “They’ve been in that business for about 15-18 years there and they have 25-30 installations in France, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.”

Town Council has said their goal is to start early fall this year and be completed by May 1, 2024. Timing that could prove costly.

Said Fletemeyer, “It’s saving lives because it’s not creating an environment that’s favorable to rip currents.”

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