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Boaters beware water hazards at St. Lucie Inlet; Army Corps dredges Intracoastal Waterway

Posted on December 14, 2020

Boaters should continue to watch out for marked floating pipelines near the St. Lucie Inlet until the end of December, when crews are expected to complete maintenance dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway channel.

The project has had a couple of delays. It was to begin mid-October, but began Nov. 28, then had to be stopped to make mechanical adjustments and repairs, said Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson David Ruderman.

Operations resumed Dec. 5, but were halted again as crews continued to make adjustments. Dredging is expected to resume sometime this week, Ruderman said.

A view of the Intracoastal Waterway looking north from the St. Lucie Inlet. The bridges are, from front, the Ernest Lyons Bridge portion of the Stuart Causeway, the Jensen Beach Causeway, and the South Causeway in Fort Pierce. (FILE PHOTO)

The weeklong and now second pause are “not a major delay, by any means,” Ruderman said. Such projects are always subject to change, pending weather, mechanical and personnel issues, Ruderman said.

The dredging project will remove about 48,000 cubic yards of material from shoals — about 6½ times the volume of the Goodyear blimp — and place it in an impoundment off the tip of Sailfish Point.

The material will be used in the future to rebuild beaches, Ruderman said.

The area being dredged is known as “The Crossroads,” at the confluence of the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, the inlet and Manatee Pocket, including:

  • The mouth of the river north of Sandsprit Park
  • The lagoon along the eastern side of Sewall’s Point
  • Both sides of the lagoon south of the inlet.

See areas in green on map below

The areas in green on this map will be dredged to maintain the Intracoastal Waterway boat channel near the St. Lucie Inlet in Stuart. Boaters should use caution in the area until the project is completed, which is expected to be the end of December.

A $2.7 million contract was awarded for the project in July to the Louisiana-based Coastal Dredging Co., Ruderman said.

Lake Okeechoobee discharges into the St. Lucie River have had no effect on the dredging project or navigation through the waterway, Ruderman said.

Discharges, which had been constant since beginning Oct. 14, are now being “pulsed,” meaning halted for five days then resumed at a reduced rate for seven days. The Army Corps expects pulse discharges to continue for a month, officials said Dec. 4.

Sand is moved Wednesday Feb. 28 at the end of Sailfish Point by contractors hired by Martin County to manage beach nourishment from bathtub Beach to the St. Lucie Inlet.

Next dredging project

After the St. Lucie Inlet project is completed, the Army Corps will dredge the Indian River Lagoon near the Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County.

The agency plans to remove about 95,000 cubic yards of material, about twice the volume of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, and place it on beaches south of the inlet.

More: Projects take sand from inlet, put sand on Bathtub Beach

Lake Okeechobee discharging into St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon | Graphic

For more news, follow Max Chesnes on Twitter by clicking here. 

Max Chesnes is a TCPalm reporter covering health, welfare and social justice on the Treasure Coast. You can keep up with Max on Twitter @MaxChesnes, email him at and give him a call at 772-978-2224.

For more of Max’s stories, click here. 

Source: tcpalm

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