Posted on December 1, 2020
Water levels in August were as low as 3 feet in some parts of the Jupiter Inlet. As much as 110,000 cubic yards of sediment could be dredged.
The Jupiter Inlet District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have reached an agreement for the local district to piggyback on a corps dredging contract, said Joseph Chaison, the district’s executive director. Chaison expects the corps to issue a permit for the dredging in time for work to start by early December.
The corps already plans to dredge near the inlet, ensuring that the Intracoastal Waterway’s boating channel is 10 feet deep below the mean low-water mark immediately west, north and south of the inlet.
Now the corps’ contractor, Louisiana-based Coastal Dredging, also will carve out up to 110,000 cubic yards of sediment from the inlet’s sand trap. If that total is dredged, it’ll cost the district about $1.8 million, Chaison said.
The district typically dredges the sand trap, a human-made lane designed to collect underwater sediment and ensure the inlet’s navigability, nearly every year, typically in late winter or early spring.
That did not occur this year.
The district realized in 2019 that a key permit, the one it now awaits being issued, had long since expired. Chaison has also said that officials wondered whether there was enough sand at the time to warrant dredging, in addition to worrying about where to place the sediment while a beach renourishment project took place in the area.
In the months since, the sand trap has been filled with an unprecedented amount of sediment, about 100,000 cubic yards. A Coast Guard notice to mariners first issued in August warns of depths as low as 3 feet in some parts of the waterway.
It’s a problem that needs fixed, district Board Chairman George Gentile said. Gentile hoped for a better price on the contract, but said he’s just happy to get the sand out of there.
“It was really a lot more than we paid before, but because of the emergency situation, we definitely went with it,” Gentile said. “It needs to be done.”
Gentile and Chaison both said officials could still decide to dredge again during the district’s usual time next year. The decision will depend on how much sand is in the trap, they said.
The district spent about $5,000 in September to install PVC markers in the middle of the inlet to warn boaters. Officials opted for PVC as a safety precaution, Chaison said, but the markers fell over after a month or so. He stills considered it a worthwhile endeavor.
“They raised awareness and they were in place while we still had a lot of people using the inlet,” Chaison said.