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Flagler County faces tough decisions to prevent further beach erosion: costs of $8mm-$16mm per year

Posted on August 24, 2022

Keeping Flagler County’s sand beaches from eroding into the Atlantic will cost millions of dollars per year and may involve extending a planned Army Corps of Engineers beach project further along the county’s 18-mile coast.

Commissioners discussed options during a workshop Aug. 15 as they reviewed the results of a $250,000 study conducted for the county government by the engineering firm Olsen Associates.

The county is expecting the Army Corps of Engineers to renourish a 2.6-mile stretch of the coast, but must still determine how to address the rest of it; the county is preparing to draft an ordinance that would place the county government in control of beach management for the whole Flagler County coast. Some commissioners expressed interest in having the Corps extend its work area further north and south.

Olsen presented the county government with six options involving adding varying amounts of sand to the beach, the dune, or both, with varying methods; the sixth would extend the fill volume of the Army Corps project — 44 cubic yards of sand per linear foot — along all 18 miles of coastline.

The county would need assistance to fund the sixth option. The annual estimated cost for the six alternatives ranges from $7.9 million per year to $15.9 million per year.

“The first three [options] are just Band-Aid fixes, I think,” County Commissioner Greg Hansen said. “And then four, five and six are unaffordable at this time.”

Adding a seawall along some areas would add design and permitting costs. Those would total around $1.8 million for a 2.4-mile stretch of coastline, County Engineer Faith Alkhatib said.

The county’s erosion problem has gotten progressively worse in recent decades, said Christopher Creed, an engineer with Olsen Associates.

In the almost five decades between 1972 and 2021, the county lost 3.6 million yards of sand, which would average out to about 73,000 cubic yards per year. But a third of the total loss occurred over the last decade.

Commissioner Dave Sullivan was interested in the possibility of adding jetties to contain the sand.

Commissioner Donald O’Brien said the county needs to identify a funding source.

“The problem is not going away, and obviously we need to figure out how we’re going to take action going forward amongst the options,” O’Brien said. “I think the biggest priority needs to be preservation of life and property. No matter what we do, we have to prioritize that way amongst those 18 miles, I think.”


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