By Cheryl Blackerby
Storm fronts with 30-plus mph winds throughout November stalled four beach renourishment projects.
The dredge was originally scheduled to start work on the south Boca Raton beach Nov. 5. But the dredge was forced to return to the Port of Palm Beach Nov. 29 for the second time because of high winds and rough seas. The new start date was Dec. 2.
The dredge, owned by Marinex Construction based in Charleston, S.C., is small compared to the one that pumped sand on Delray Beach early this year and can’t work in high waves.
South Boca Raton beach is the first in line for beach renourishment, with Ocean Ridge next, then Delray Beach and finally north Boca Raton beach.
“If there is no bad weather and we can keep going, it will take about 10 days for the south Boca Raton beach, and it will be finished about the middle of December,” said Jennifer Bistyga, engineer with the city of Boca Raton.
Ocean Ridge, Delray Beach and north Boca Raton beach are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers renourishment projects. The Army Corps deadline for those projects is April 30, 2014, and even with the bad weather in November, the work should be finished before deadline if seas remain calm, said Bistyga.
The south Boca Raton beach renourishment is not an Army Corps project, but is using the same contractor to save money, she said. The south Boca Raton beach renourishment covers nine-tenths miles of beach, starting just south of South Inlet Park and ending at the Deerfield Beach city border. Sand will be pumped onto 1.45 miles of the north Boca Raton beach.
In Ocean Ridge, sand from borrow areas about 1,800 feet offshore will be pumped on to 1.1 miles of beach, said Tracy Logue, coastal geologist for Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management.
“We estimate 34 dredging days in Ocean Ridge, unless we have to stop for weather,” said Logue. Sand will be put on the beach starting at the Ocean Club just south of the southernmost groin and end at Edith Street, she said.
When the dredge is finished in Ocean Ridge, it will move to Delray Beach. There is no definite start date, but if the dredge is on schedule in Ocean Ridge, work in Delray Beach should start around the first week of January.
Another factor in the beach renourishment deadline is the official start of turtle season March 1.
“They can go past that date but they have to have a permit, and they have to set up turtle monitoring and protection,” said Logue.
Meanwhile, cities can only cross their fingers hoping good weather is around the corner.
“The projects will depend on the weather,” said Bistyga. “In November, we had front after front, almost continuous winds. And there’s nothing you can do.”