Jacksonville, Fla. – The Lake Worth Inlet Feasibility Study proposes to deepen and widen the Federal channel from Lake Worth Inlet to the Port of Palm Beach. The Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been revised as a result of comments received during the comment review period (including independent external peer review). All comments have been addressed and will be included in the final report and appendices.
Due to significant comments received from stakeholders during the review period, Little Lake Worth and Turtle Cove have been removed as potential locations for seagrass mitigation. The report will be sent as a Draft Final through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chain of command for final review over the next 3 months.
The final Feasibility Report and EIS will be released to the public, state and agencies in the November timeframe.
The Corps is currently coordinating with resource agencies for the mitigation plan. Locations for both sea grass and hardbottom mitigation have not been finalized. Concerns over the use of Little Lake Worth, Turtle Cove, or other proposed locations for mitigation have been considered and will be shared with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Lake Worth Inlet, serving as an entrance channel to the port, is inadequate both in width and depth, negatively impacting future port potential and creating economic inefficiencies with the current fleet of vessels. Based on modern vessel sizes, the port is operating with insufficient channel width and depth. These deficiencies cause the local harbor pilots and the U.S Coast Guard to place restrictions on vessel transit to ensure safety. In turn, these restrictions lead to light loading, tidal delays, and maneuvering difficulties – resulting in economic inefficiencies that translate into costs to the national economy.
The tentatively selected plan proposes the following: deepen the entrance channel from 35 to 41-feet and widen from 400 to 440-460 feet, plus a southern approach flare; deepen the inner channel from 33 to 39-feet and widen from 300 to 450-feet; deepen the main turning basin from 33 feet to 39 feet and extend the southern boundary of the turning basin an additional150-feet.
Suitable material would be placed in the nearshore, adjacent to the beach, or beneficially used for proposed mitigation; unsuitable material would be taken to the Palm Beach Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site. Approximately 4.5 acres of seagrass habitat and 4.9 acres of hardbottom habitat would be affected through implementation of the tentatively selected plan. However, 8.25 to 11.25 acres of seagrass mitigation and 4.9 to 9.8 acres of hardbottom mitigation are under negotiation.
In addition, immediately south of the main turning basin, a warm water outfall from the Florida Power and Light Riviera Plant creates a warm water refugium for manatees during cold periods.