Siesta Key residents worried about a barge sucking sand off the coast of the barrier island can rest easy. The vessel is actually putting one of the final pieces in place to complete the long-delayed $4.5 million Beach Road Drainage Improvements project.
The contractor overseeing the project is installing a diffuser on the end of a drainpipe stretching into the Gulf of Mexico that will prevent discharged water from upsetting the seafloor and mix better with the salt water, according to Sarasota County project manager Alex Boudreau. The new system, which includes an ultraviolet filter and disinfecting system hooked up to the stormwater pump to clean the water before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico discharge pipe, should be functional by May 30.
The barge should be finished with its work by Wednesday, Boudreau said, but unpredictable variables could cause delays.
"Construction is always dynamic, so anything could go wrong," Boudreau said.
Heavy rainfall in September left the Siesta Beach construction site flooded, which required crews to find a way to pump out the standing water before work could resume. Prior to September’s heavy rains, crews anticipated the retention pond construction site (the pond is planned to be 15 feet deep) would continually need to be dewatered due to the shallow water table near the beach. The construction water was to be left untreated and pumped into a ditch that ran across Siesta Beach and into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District provided a roughly $1 million grant for the project.