The town of Longboat Key and Manatee County have reached an agreement to dredge the authorized channel of Longboat Pass whenever needed, while recovering sand for their beaches in the process.
The decision, which essentially removes the red tape associated with waiting for state-and- federal agencies to dredge the pass, was announced at a West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) meeting Monday, May 10, in Venice.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said he’s happy with the agreement, which will save the town money for its 2011-12 beach renourishment project and allow the town and the county to recover sand that has swept into the pass.
The agreement also means the town doesn’t have to worry about WCIND and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging a channel alignment that’s drifted to the south. Town and county officials were concerned that the channel’s southward migration would cause severe erosion on both Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.
To save money, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not dredged the original, authorized boat channel in the center of the pass since 1997.
The town will receive all of the anticipated 200,000 cubic yards of sand dredged in November 2011 from Longboat Pass, because Manatee County will have already completed a beach project by then.
That sand, St. Denis says, will be used to renourish the north end of Longboat Key for the town’s upcoming 2011-12 beach renourishment project, which also begins in November 2011.
And although the town will spend approximately $2.2 million to dredge the pass, St. Denis said the town will save money overall.
Sand that needs to be barged to the island costs anywhere from $15 to $20 per yard, while the sand nearby in Longboat Pass will cost approximately $10 to $12 per yard to bring ashore.
“To obtain the same quantity of sand for the north end from the Gulf of Mexico will cost anywhere from $3 million to $4 million,” St. Denis said.
St. Denis said this agreement is the best solution for the town.
“We are getting the channel alignment we want and beach-compatible sand for a lower price,” St. Denis said. “This saves us money and keeps Longboat Pass away from us.”
St. Denis said the town and Manatee County are not sure how often the pass will need to be dredged.
“It will depend when we need sand,” St. Denis said. “If we are running low on sand, it will be in the pass for us to retrieve.”
Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s Director of Conservation Lands Management, is also happy with the agreement.
Said Hunsicker: “The authorized channel alignment provides the least impact to both the north-and-south shores of the pass. This is the best solution possible for both islands.”
Contact Kurt Schulteis at email@example.com.
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