ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A plan to recycle sand drifting onto ever-widening North Beach and place it onto Fort Pierce’s constantly eroding South Beach is up for discussion at a public workshop scheduled for Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the County Commission Chambers in Fort Pierce.
County Coastal Engineer Richard Bouchard will display the plans, answer questions and accept suggestions from members of the community.
Sand drifts southward down the east coast, settling on the north side of jetties and enlarging beaches, but bypassing beaches on the south side of jetties.. As a result, Fort Pierce’s North Beach always has plenty of sand while South Beach sand on the other side of Fort Pierce Inlet erodes from tide, wind, and storms.
The sand capture plan involves digging a long trench on the Fort Pierce Inlet floor adjacent to, and parallel to, North Jetty. The trench will act as a trap for sand drifting through the jetty and into the inlet. Every two or three years, a hydraulic dredge will vacuum the sand out of the trench and send it through a pipe on the inlet floor to South Beach where it will be distributed to replenish the beach.
“There are several variations of this plan for people to look at,” Bouchard said, “and there are questions to be answered before any cost can be determined. For instance, should we separate the rocks from the sand before we pump it over to South Beach?”
Martin County has a similar arrangement for the St. Lucie Inlet that “works very well,” said Kathy FitzPatrick, the county’s coastal engineer, and Sebastian Inlet in Indian River County also uses the sand trap method.
One or more members of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County intend to be at the workshop, according to alliance President and St. Lucie County Riverkeeper George Jones. “We definitely have an interest in this.”
Andy Brady, a member of the Surfrider Foundation of the Treasure Coast and a vice president of the Conservation Alliance, said his concern is whether the project will affect the North Beach waves.
“One of the questions is, will making a trench next to the jetty increase the flow of sand off North Beach?” he said. “We would love to see beach sand back on the beach, but this is a double-edged sword. We have some of the best waves for surfing there now. We’ve been involved in discussions on this plan from the beginning and we will continue to be involved.”If You Go
What: Public workshop to discuss sand capture plan
When: Wednesday from 6-8 p.m
Where: St. Lucie County Commission Chambers, third floor, Roger Poitras County Administration Annex, 2300 Virginia Ave. at South 25th Street, Fort Pierce.
Information: Call Richard Bouchard at 772-462-1710