Dredging and beach programs experience active year

Published Jan. 4, 2013
Sand was placed at Fort Clinch State Park following the dredging of Kings Bay Entrance Channel at Fernandina Harbor.

Sand was placed at Fort Clinch State Park following the dredging of Kings Bay Entrance Channel at Fernandina Harbor.

Florida’s shorelines saw a flurry of activity during 2012. The state experienced several storm systems that caused erosion impacts to a host of federal beach projects. In addition, a few beaches saw new sand placed on their shores as a result of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dredging projects.

Storm season is always an active time for Florida, and 2012 was no exception. Both Tropical Storm Debby and Hurricane Sandy left damages in their wake to numerous shorelines. The Corps spent a considerable amount of time assessing damages across the state from both of these storms.

The impacts were so significant to some areas that the Corps initiated the Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Hurricane Shore Protection Projects (HSPPs) under Public Law 84-99. The program allows the Corps to supplement local efforts to repair federal flood control projects damaged by floods and/or hurricanes, and federally authorized and constructed HSPPs damaged or destroyed by extraordinary wind, wave or water action. The program allows the amount of sand necessary to restore federal projects to pre-storm conditions.

Several shore protection projects occurred throughout the year, including South Beach in Miami, Fla., one of the state’s top tourist destinations, providing millions of dollars in revenue each year. The Corps closely coordinated efforts with the city of Miami and local businesses, to ensure minimal impacts to tourists and residents during the work.

In Jacksonville District’s backyard, the St. Johns County Shore Protection Project was completed in November 2012. Also, dredging for the Kings Bay Entrance Channel at Fernandina Harbor was also completed. During the Kings Bay Entrance Channel dredging project, approximately 50,000 cubic yards of beach quality sand was placed at Fort Clinch State Park. The dredging project allowed for maintenance of the entrance channel, which was critical to commercial cargo transiting the port.

The Corp’s newest dredge, named MURDEN, made its debut on a Jacksonville District project in Clearwater, Fla. During its first voyage, the 163-foot vessel undertook a maintenance dredging project at Clearwater Pass.

The MURDEN’s visit to Jacksonville District was unique. Usually vessels of this nature operate in the northern half of the Atlantic coast, and rarely make their way to the southeast. However, timing was perfect and the vessel was ready for work at precisely the same time as the district needed it for a project.

“Recently there has been little to no funding available for shallow draft projects. Bringing in a dredge with the technical capabilities of the MURDEN is greatly beneficial,” said Jose Bilbao, project manager. “In this case, we were fortunate to have the MURDEN in the area and the Corps was able to do the job, and efficiently place the sand in the littoral system where it will provide coastal benefits.”
Another Corps dredge worked at the Ponce De Leon Inlet. The CURRITUCK conducted maintenance dredging at the inlet entrance channel and inlet channels leading up to the Intracoastal Waterway.

“It is very unique to have two Corps vessels working on our projects at the same time,” said Bilbao. “It rarely happens, and we are fortunate to have both of these vessels simultaneously fulfilling our project needs. It’s a huge benefit for us all.”

For its 89th annual meeting, the Coastal Engineering Research Board (CERB) met in Jacksonville. Established by public law in 1963, the CERB functions as an advisory board to the Chief of Engineers. The theme of the meeting was “Regional Sediment Management – Uniting Navigation, Beaches and the Ecosystem.” The objectives of the meeting were to examine the challenges with port and navigation development and operation, beach and coastal development and managing storm damage risk; and to examine the challenges to coastal ecosystems restoration, resilience and sustainability, all with a focus on coastal engineering requirements.

The conference was a great success, and Jacksonville District received many compliments for a job well done. “I wanted to personally thank Jacksonville District for hosting the CERB this week,” said Col. Ed Jackson, South Atlantic Division commander. “It was extremely well planned and executed and I personally learned a great deal.”