Sunday, March 3

Palm Beach County combats beach erosion following recent storms

Many areas in Palm Beach County have been battered by storms in recent weeks, causing erosion on area beaches.

It’s a topic that’s long been on the county’s radar, which entails putting sand in areas like Coral Cove Park in Tequesta. It’s there where sand is much needed because of noticeable drop-offs from the dunes to the shoreline.

Surfer and Tequesta resident Mark Mertens would describe Coral Cove Park as a gem but under a lot of pressure from storm systems that pound the coast.

Andy Studt with Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources described the effort that goes into preserving the beaches.

“Historic development has caused us to not be able to have storms erode into the dune very far because we’re concerned with that infrastructure that’s built on top of the natural system, so these engineered dune projects really help protect that upland infrastructure,” Studt said. “They also act as a secondary sand source that keeps sand on the beach following those storm events.”

He said over the past three months storms in places like Coral Cove Park have made the area an erosion hotspot.

“Consistent, very strong winds and very strong waves associated with those winds have caused some impacts to our dune-only project area,” Studt said.

The money for county-led restoration projects comes from tourist development bed taxes. Federal and state support also helps with matching funding on restoration projects. Mertens said he’s concerned the projects aren’t doing enough

“I consider that kind of a waste of money because there’s times when I’ve been on the beach watching the front end loaders drop the sand and literally the ocean just take it down the beach,” Mertens said. “Yes, it’ll move it to another spot, but the sand that they’re putting on there, it’s going to move it way further than the natural heavier sand.”

Studt said that’s part of the natural flow of the coastal system, rather than millions of dollars washing away. With more storms inevitably in the forecast, Mertens said he’s grateful for the interest in restoration and waves.

“Well, for us it’s great because there’s waves, and I’m a surfer,” Mertens said.

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