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Palm Beach Approves New Agreement with State for Inlet Sand

Posted on April 24, 2017

By Aleese Kopf, Palm Beach Daily News

An updated agreement with the state will allow inlet-dredged sand to be placed on town beaches farther south of what is now permitted, officials say.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges the Lake Worth Inlet every two years to maintain the navigational channels. The federal agency has been placing the dredged sand on island beaches from just south of the inlet to Angler Avenue.

But, the town has been working with the Army Corps over the past year to extend the placement area to Merrain Road. This would allow more sand to be placed on the dry beach instead of the nearshore. Corps contractors now place sand on the dry beach when possible and in the nearshore when the beach template is full.

As a condition of placing sand on the dry beach rather than the nearshore, the Corps requires the town to perform certain duties, including sea turtle and hardbottom monitoring, escarpment and shorebird nesting surveys, and tilling. Those activities are part of an agreement with the town and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Public Works Director Paul Brazil told the Town Council last week that the town needs to update its contract with DEP to cover the extended placement area.

“Because the Corps is extending the disposal area, we’re entering into a new agreement,” he said.

Brazil said the town will have the same responsibilities under the new agreement, including mitigation.

“I don’t think that it is a strong liability of the town, but I really need to emphasize the fact that that liability does exist,” he said of the mitigation. “It hasn’t been an issue in the past. We’ve been through several hurricanes and we weren’t faced with the liability for mitigation, so I don’t see an event that would cause it. But it is possible.”

The possibly costly mitigation would be for negative impact to hardbottom. Hardbottom is nearshore biodiverse habitat that provides food sources for certain organisms.

Brazil said the town already has $10,000 in its capital budget to cover the monitoring costs.

The council unanimously approved the agreement.

The Army Corps is scheduled to dredge the inlet early next year.

Source: The Shiny Sheet

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