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Crews Mobilize for Sebastian Inlet District Channel Maintenance Dredging, Sand Bypass and Beach Renourishment Project 

aerial view of dredge boat over sand trap in inlet channel
A dredge boat sitting over the inlet's sand trap from the last project in 2014.

Ferreira Construction of Stuart, selected during a competitive bid process, is mobilizing for the Sebastian Inlet District’s scheduled channel maintenance and beach renourishment project that will hydraulically dredge 150,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet’s sand trap and navigation channel leading to the Intracoastal Waterway per the State’s Beach Management Act.

The 19-week project will move 120,000 cubic yards of sand to a one and a half mile stretch of downdrift beaches starting at McLarty Treasure Museum and continuing South past the Ampersand Beach access as part of beach restoration efforts in Indian River County, and is expected to finish in April 2019.  An additional 30,000 cubic yards of sand will be stockpiled in the Sebastian Inlet District’s Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA) for emergency beach fill and dune repair.

“Channel maintenance and beach renourishment projects take place every three to five years since we expanded the sand trap in 2014 and 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 Martin Smithson, Sebastian Inlet District administrator.  “No other inlet in Florida has the volume of data we do in analyzing coastal processes and the movement of sand through the system.”

Ferreira is mobilizing equipment now, and will start fusing pipe at the District’s southern access and staging area, at Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) marker R-8, and identified sites within Sebastian Inlet State Park (SISP).  Applied Technology Management, Inc. is the engineering firm that defined the scope and will oversee the project.

The current schedule calls for pipe installation and connection to start on Jan. 7 and be completed by Jan. 25.  An 18’ dredge will be staged in the sand trap area West of the inlet and a booster dredge with be staged near the bridge on the Indian River County side with pipe access to downdrift beaches.  Dredging of the sand trap for beach placement as a priority is set to begin on Jan. 28, continuing through Feb. 25, with final beach tilling and grading by the end of Feb.  Dredging of the channel will begin in mid-March, filling the DMMA with sand before demobilization set for mid-April.

Total project cost is $2,945,000 with the next lowest bid to complete the project this season coming in at $5,760,000.  Sebastian Inlet District officials have also applied for cost share funding available through FDEP and specifically earmarked for coastal and inlet management by the Florida State Legislature.  If awarded, 75% of the project will be covered by state funds with the remaining 25% paid by the Sebastian Inlet District.

“We are 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 in the last 15 years,” said Smithson.  “In my time here, the Commission has significantly lowered the millage rate paid by those within the District’s boundaries.”

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.

Ongoing turbidity monitoring around the dredge and at the ocean side discharge point will be conducted 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.  During dredge operations, a trained observer is required at all times to monitor for manatees and sawfish with operations halting completely should either be observed within 50 feet of the dredge.

Sea turtle monitoring guidelines apply should Ferreira not complete the beach placement phase before March 1 as anticipated and post-project monitoring will be 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.  No Sebastian Inlet District projects have ever had a negative identified impact on sea turtle nesting on area beaches.  EAI will also monitor for shorebirds per the FDEP permits, including the Piping Plover, after April 1 as needed.

Immediately after project completion, marine biologists with CSA Ocean Sciences who conducted a comprehensive, pre-project nearshore hardbottom survey this summer will go into to conduct a post-project survey to ensure no sand has migrated to cover the important nearshore hardbottom habitat South of the inlet.  The last ten years of environmental monitoring show no impacts from Sebastian Inlet District projects.

“The Commission takes seriously its commitment to preserving natural resources and protecting important habitats and wildlife around the inlet,” said Smithson.  “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.”

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.

Posted: 12/27/2018