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Frequently Asked Questions

ABOUT THE SEBASTIAN INLET DISTRICT

When was the Sebastian Inlet District created and what does it do?

Created as an independent special taxing district in 1919 by special act of the Florida State Legislature, the Sebastian Inlet District was chartered to maintain the navigational channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River.  The Sebastian Inlet District is responsible for bypassing sand that migrates into the inlet system to downdrift beaches per the Florida Beach & Shore Preservation Act, and conducts periodic dredging, channel maintenance, sand bypass and beach renourishment projects.  Other critical functions include erosion control, emergency beach and dune repair, shoreline stabilization and inlet infrastructure maintenance, public safety in navigation, and environmental monitoring and protection.  The Sebastian Inlet District routinely works with marine scientists to conduct biological monitoring of the critically important habitats surrounding the inlet that support a broad range of different species.  For more information, please visit our Projects page.

Who manages the Sebastian Inlet District?

The Sebastian Inlet District is governed by 5-member Commission with three (3) Brevard County seats and two (2) Indian River County seats.  Property owners within the District's boundaries in Brevard and Indian River Counties can cast their vote for all eligible Sebastian Inlet District Commission seats during the general election held in November of each even-numbered year.  Commissioners serve 4-year terms that are staggered.

How does the Sebastian Inlet District fund its projects and activities?

Per its charter, the Sebastian Inlet District has defined boundaries and is authorized to collect ad valorem tax revenue from property owners with those boundaries in Brevard and Indian River counties.  The FY 2019-2020 ad valorem tax rate is 0.0831 mills and we work with each County’s Property Appraiser and Tax Collector to notice proposed rates and collect revenue.  In FY 2019-2020, assessments are expected to generate $2.2M in support of the Sebastian Inlet District’s projects and activities. 

Cost-share funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Beaches and Funding Assistance program is another important source of project funding and most recently, provided 75% of the funding needed to complete the 2018-2019 Channel Maintenance Dredging, Sand Bypass and Beach Renourishment Project.  Read more here.  As part of its commitment to fiscal responsibility, the Sebastian Inlet District Commission has secured more than $12.5M in cost-share funding from FDEP since 2008.

How often does the Sebastian Inlet District dredge the inlet and channel connecting to the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW)?

Employing a science-based approach to inlet management that has earned the Sebastian Inlet District state-wide recognition, we continuously monitor the accumulation of sand in the 42-acre depression within the inlet (known as the sand trap) and the navigational channel.  The Sebastian Inlet District does this through its long-standing research partnership with Florida Tech and semi-annual bathymetric surveys of the entire inlet system and backwaters. 

On average, dredging and sand bypass projects occur every 4-5 years as the sand trap fills to a capacity of approximately 200,000 cubic yards of sediment, or sand.  The 3,120-foot channel connecting the Sebastian Inlet to the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) was designed to be 150-feet wide and 9-feet deep, at a minimum.  During the most recent channel maintenance dredging project, some areas were dredged to a depth of -12 feet and the Sebastian Inlet District posts semi-annual bathymetric survey maps on this site as an aid to navigation for the general public.

Does the Sebastian Inlet District maintain the navigation markers for the channel connecting the inlet to the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW)?

Yes.  The Sebastian Inlet District was given the authorization to create the channel and install navigation markers in 2007 and has maintained them ever since.  While downed channel markers along the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) are maintained by the US Coast Guard, please report any missing or downed channel navigation markers directly to the Sebastian Inlet District by calling (321) 724-5175.

What other types of projects are managed by the Sebastian Inlet District?

For a comprehensive overview, please visit our Projects page.  Focused on public safety in navigation, the Sebastian Inlet District maintains inlet infrastructure to include the North and South jetties and the armoring of shorelines on either side of the inlet.  The Sebastian Inlet District operates the Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA), a 6-acre sand storage site located Northwest of the tide pool that can be accessed for emergency beach fill and dune repair in an area vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes.  The Sebastian Inlet District works closely with Dr. Gary Zarillo and his team at Florida Tech to gather data from fixed wave and weather gauges, conduct sophisticated coastal modeling to monitor sand transport within the inlet system and publish an annual State of the Inlet report.  The Sebastian Inlet District also routinely works with marine scientists to monitor important habitats around the inlet that include the nearshore hardbottom reef system just South of the inlet, seagrass beds in six (6) zones on the Western flood shoal, and area beaches important to sea turtle nesting and shorebirds.

How long are the North and South jetties?

After the most recent construction work completed in 2003, the North jetty was extended to 1,000 feet in length with elevated concrete cap, handrails and a grate system.  The South jetty is 575 feet. 

How much sand can be stored in the Sebastian Inlet District’s DMMA?

The Sebastian Inlet District’s DMMA can hold up to 50,000 cubic yards of sediment for future beach placement and/or emergency dune repair.  This allows for immediate mobilization in response to significant, negative impacts to area beaches South of Sebastian Inlet.  Sand resources from the Sebastian Inlet District’s DMMA that was built in 2011 were mobilized post-hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Matthew (2016).  

 

ABOUT SPECIAL DISTRICTS

How and why are special districts created?

The Florida Legislature, municipalities, counties and the Governor and Cabinet have the authority to create special districts and do so for a variety of reasons.  Most often, special districts are created to provide local or regional public services to residents that are not delivered by any other state or local government agencies.  Special districts can be governed by a Board of appointed or elected members who have the expertise relevant to the specialized function of the special district, allowing municipalities and counties to focus on general governmental issues, as is the case with the Sebastian Inlet District.

Are there different types of special districts?

Yes.  There are both independent and dependent special districts, single county and multi-county, and they provide a broad range of different public services.  In the interest of accountability of public resources, special districts and their governing Board are held to the same high standards as municipalities and counties and must comply with accountability standards set by Chapter 189, Florida Statutes that include issues financial reporting requirements, Government-in-the-Sunshine and ethics laws.

How many special districts are there in the State of Florida and what services to they provide?

The Sebastian Inlet District a multi-county, independent special district and functions as one of more than 1,700 special districts.  Special districts fight fires, provide mosquito control services, fund childrens’ services, operate hospitals, airports, waterways and seaports.  Throughout the State, special districts finance, build and maintain public facilities like parks, museums, schools and transportation infrastructure.  For more information of special districts, visit the Florida Association of Special Districts (FASD) or the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

How are special districts funded?

Special districts often generate their own revenue in the form of ad valorem assessments, non-ad valorem assessments, user fees, tax increment financing, tolls and/or grants.  The system is designed so that those benefiting from the public services provided are those who pay for them. 

 

ABOUT SEBASTIAN INLET

What is Sebastian Inlet known for?

Sebastian Inlet is a premier fishing, boating, and surfing destination on Florida’s East coast, offering a host of other recreational activities for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.  The inlet supports one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America and is surrounded by critically important habitats that are home to a wide array of plant and animal species. Sebastian Inlet sits between two segments of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Reserve that has the highest nesting densities of loggerhead sea turtles in the Western Hemisphere and serves as important nesting grounds for the endangered green sea turtles and leatherbacks.  Offshore and nearshore hardbottom reef just South of the inlet is a prime grazing ground for juvenile green sea turtles that can spend up to the first 2 years of their life there and supports our fisheries.  Seagrass beds on the western flood shoal are teaming with life, help improve water quality and help stabilize the lagoon bed.  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 as one of only five navigable channels that connect the Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean.

How many inlets are there in the State of Florida?

The Sebastian inlet is one of 60 inlets on the coast of Florida.  Situated between Brevard and Indian River counties on the East coast, the inlet is bordered on both sides by Sebastian Inlet State Park, consistently one of the most visited parks in Florida with an average of 750,000-1M visitors annually.

Does the Sebastian Inlet District manage the Park that borders the inlet?

No.  It’s important to make the distinction between the Sebastian Inlet State Park, established in 1971 and managed and operated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and the Sebastian Inlet District.  While we work closely together on all projects, the Sebastian Inlet District was established as an independent special district by the Florida State Legislature in 1919 with a charter of maintaining the navigational channel connecting the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.  Park access, fishing piers and catwalks, park regulations, boat launches and campground reservations are all as directed by the Florida Park Service, under the auspices of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). For more information, visit Sebastian Inlet State Park.