Tuesday, November 28

King tides, strong surf create ‘ongoing battle’ threatening beaches

There is less beach at Singer Beach these days. Last week’s storm and recent persistent winds the past few months out of the northeast are eroding beachfront, according to local environmental officials.

Here are the numbers: Palm Beach County has 47 miles of beaches. More than 70% some 34 miles worth –is deemed to be critically eroded.

I talked with Andy Studt, the environmental program supervisor for the county.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” he told me.

The cost of turning back the tide on erosion he said runs as high as $15 million a year on average, though state and federal funding is part of that mix. It is a big price tag but the return comes, proponents note, with improved storm protection from healthy beaches.

Tourism bosses note the 9 million visitors who flocked to Palm Beach County last year, pumping billions of dollars into the economy. Sun, surf and sand are a major part of that attraction.

Studt offered perspective on ongoing beach renourishment efforts.

“It’s an ongoing challenge that is more of a decades-long challenge,” he said. “These projects are looking out typically six to seven years for large beach nourishment projects and two three five years for the dune restoration projects, and then these storm events can be the big impactors that kind of rip up that schedule.”

In short, there an ongoing effort to move forward in the never-ending battle with relentless tides and a rising sea.

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