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USACE Revisits Dredging Projects Along Florida’s West Coast

The federal proposal to dredge seven different "cuts" would affect some of Florida's beach communities. - USACE

Posted on March 31, 2023

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun soliciting public comments for a maintenance dredging project along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a 165-mile stretch from the mouth of the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral.

Project manager Eduardo Marin and biologist Katie Lebow made several presentations during a virtual event on Wednesday in advance of a public comment deadline of April 21.

Seven “cuts,” including several along Pinellas County beaches, would be prioritized for dredging. The comment period is the first step in the National Environmental Protection Act process. Dredging was first proposed in 2018 and was ready for actual study, design and execution but funding didn’t materialize, according to a spokesperson. Among the items to be studied include the potential effects on wildlife, seagrass and water quality.

Construction of the federally-owned navigation channel abutting the coast of at least five counties was first authorized in 1945 and completed in 1967.

The proposal is separate from the General Reevaluation Report that the Corps is leading on the Tampa Bay harbor, which could eventually be deepened from 43 feet to as much as 50 feet. Port Tampa Bay Counsel Charles Klug said at a hearing earlier this month that the port believes it will be successful in getting that done. If so, it would be a decades-long process.

This month, the Florida Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources passed a committee substitute bill that would require dredging projects for deepwater ports to have a habitat equivalency analysis as a condition of obtaining permits for maintenance dredging permits.

SB 1072 now rests in the Community Affairs Committee.

“We’re still trying to understand what exactly is … being resolved here,” Florida Ports Council President and CEO Michael Rubin said in response to the bill.


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