Sebastian News

Channel Dredging, Sand Bypass and Beach Renourishment Project Complete – Environmental Monitoring Ongoing

Ferreira Construction has completed both phases of the Sebastian Inlet District’s channel maintenance, sand bypass and beach renourishment project that dredged
approximately 153,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet’s sand trap and navigation channel leading to the Intracoastal Waterway, and has fully demobilized.

The project placed approximately 113,000 cubic yards of sand on a one and a half mile stretch of downdrift beaches starting at McLarty Treasure Museum and continuing South past the Ambersand beach access, according to the beach fill template designed by coastal engineers and designated by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) R-monuments R-10 to R-17.  Per the State’s Beach Management Act, the Sebastian Inlet District is mandated to bypass sand onto downdrift beaches and dredges the 42-acre depression within the inlet system known as the sand trap every 4-5 years as it accumulates up to 200,000 cubic yards of sand.

An additional 40,000 cubic yards of sand is being stockpiled in the District’s Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA) for future emergency beach fill and dune repair.  The 6-acre DMMA is located immediately Northwest of the Tidal Pool within Sebastian Inlet State Park and can be easily assessed if beaches are negatively impacted by hurricanes or other natural events.

The 3,120-foot channel connecting the inlet to the Intracoastal Waterway was dredged to 150-feet wide and to varying depths of up to -12 feet.

“We consistently monitor the accumulation of sand within the inlet system through the data we collect in partnership with Florida Institute of Technology and semi-annual bathymetric surveys,” said Sebastian Inlet Executive Director James Gray.  “No other inlet in Florida has the volume of data we do in analyzing coastal processes and the movement of sand through the system.”

Total project cost is approximately $3M and was awarded through a competitive, public bid process, and 75% of the project will be covered by FDEP state funds with the remaining 25% paid by the Sebastian Inlet District.

“The Commission is always seeking out ways manage the District’s budget in a fiscally responsible way and we have been able to obtain in excess of $8M in cost share funding from various sources like FDEP, Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and others in the last 15 years,” said Gray.

The District and its contractors work closely with officials at FDEP and the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain needed permits and conduct important environmental monitoring that takes place pre-, during and post-project.

Sea turtle and shore bird monitoring within the project area is being conducted by Ecological Associates, Inc. (EAI) for the entire 2019 nesting season to ensure no impacts, including escarpments or changes in the profile of the beaches after grading.  Permits require sea turtle and shore bird monitoring for up to three seasons following beach construction.

Marine biologists with CSA Ocean Sciences who conducted a comprehensive, pre-project nearshore hardbottom survey in August of 2018 last week finished the post-project survey to ensure no sand has migrated to cover the important nearshore hardbottom habitat South of the inlet.  By permit, post-construction nearshore hardbottom surveys are conducted three years following beach construction.  Read more here.

“The Commission takes seriously its commitment to preserving natural resources and protecting important habitats and wildlife around the inlet,” said Gray.  “We know from experience that there’s a way to conduct these state-mandated projects in a way that has zero impact so the beauty of what we all enjoy at the inlet is around for generations to come.”

Biologists from Atkins are expected to conduct field work in July to monitor seagrass beds in six zones on the flood shoal West of the inlet.  During the project, ongoing turbidity monitoring was conducted to ensure around the dredge and at the ocean side discharge point by Florida Institute of Technology to meet standards set by FDEP to protect seagrass shoals to the West of the inlet and nearshore hardbottom along the southern beaches.

More than 2.5 million cubic yards of sand has been placed during beach restoration projects in the Sebastian Inlet District’s almost 100-year history.  For more information, please contact us at (321) 724-5175.

The Sebastian Inlet District was created in 1919 as an independent special district by act of the Florida State Legislature, and chartered to maintain the navigational channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River.  The Sebastian Inlet District is governed by a 5-member, elected Commission and its responsibilities include beach re-nourishment and dune repair as part of a state mandated sand bypass system, erosion control, environmental protection and public safety.  The Sebastian Inlet supports a rich and diverse ecological environment that is unparalleled in North America.  The Inlet is vital not only to the ecological health of the Indian River Lagoon, but it is also an important economic engine for local communities in the region.  Known as the premier surfing, fishing, boating and recreational area on the east coast of Florida, the inlet is one of only five navigable channels that connect the Indian River lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean.

Marine Biologists Complete Survey of Nearshore and Offshore Hardbottom Reef South of Sebastian Inlet