By Steve Plunkett
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. is back offshore pumping sand from the ebb shoal just south of the Boca Raton Inlet to beaches south of the inlet.
The roughly 1 mile of beaches between the inlet and the city limit with Deerfield Beach will remain open to the public except for about 500 feet around each day’s active area.
The $6.5 million project started in March and is scheduled to be completed by May 1. The city’s permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection does not allow sand to be deposited on the beaches from May to November to protect nesting sea turtles.
While signs on State Road A1A say turtle season is March 1 to Oct. 31, intense nesting does not begin that soon.
The turtle conservation program at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, which monitors the city’s 5 miles of beaches every morning during the season, as of March 27 reported only two leatherback nests and no loggerhead or green turtle nests.
Boca Raton routinely nourishes its south beach every seven years, rotating the work with projects on its central and north beaches. Hurricanes and other storms can lead to emergency sand projects.
The cost of the current work will be partly offset by grants from Palm Beach County and the state DEP.
The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District uses its tax revenue to pay for 50% of beach nourishment projects.
Through separate contracts, Great Lakes will also pump sand onto Deerfield Beach and its southern neighbor, Hillsboro Beach. Those municipalities are paying for their own work, supplemented by state and federal money.
Besides widening beaches for visitors, moving sand south helps keep the Boca Raton Inlet navigable to boaters.
“So excited to hear they are dredging the Boca inlet! Needed badly, it has been a little bumpy on the north side going out!!” Boca Raton boater Cindy Galiardo posted on Facebook.