VIDEO: Army Corps releases Big Pass study draft


VIDEO: Army Corps releases Big Pass study draft


Date: June 13, 2014
by: Alex Mahadevan | Digital Content Producer


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers $23 million plans to renourish Lido Key with sand from Big Pass have brought together Siesta Key groups in opposition and inspired a music video. Yesterday, as expected, the Army Corps released the draft of a study that supports the dredging efforts.

“(The Army Corps) made this public so both the city and the county can have it peer reviewed,” said Sarasota City Engineer Alex DavisShaw. The city has already contracted with a firm to do the analysis.

“Results from the CMS (Coastal Modeling System) model have shown that it is possible to mine the ebb shoal without affecting sediment transport pathways that deliver sediment to (Siesta Key),” according to the draft. Mining more than 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from the outskirts of the never-been-dredged channel and adding groins wouldn’t affect navigability or increase wave energy.

According to Army Corps data and models in the draft, the Big Pass shoal has grown by more than 3 million cubic centimeters of sand in the last decade, bringing its total volume to 23.3 million cubic yards.

“I’ve got staff reviewing it currently,” said Sarasota County Coastal Resources Manager Laird Wreford, who could not speak in specifics about the newly-released study. “Now, we have the most up-to-date information on the extensive work the Army Corps has done on the impacts the project is expected to have.”

County staff will sit down with city of Sarasota staff and the Army Corps Tuesday, to discuss the study.

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Association and the Siesta Key Village Association have all joined in opposition to dredging plans and in support of an independent peer review of the Army Corps statistics and methodology. Another Siesta Key organization, Save Our Siesta Sands 2, took a litigious step last month in opposition to the proposed dredging.

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt attorney Don Hemke, who represents the group, sent a letter May 16 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers citing concerns about the project, and the need for more formal environmental reviews.

On the other side of the inlet, the St. Armands Residents Association recently submitted a petition with 94 signatures to show Lido Beach neighbors stand behind the project.

“Lido Beach has suffered severe beach erosion in recent years and is in urgent need of replenishment,” the petition states. “ ... We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to authorize the approval and implementation of the (project).”

The county has an overall interest in making sure the project doesn’t negatively affect coastal systems, and a specific interest in the county-owned areas on South Lido Beach, Wreford said. The city may have to seek a construction easement for sand-saving structures included in the project.

“At least one of the structures is very likely to be on county property,” Wreford said.

County staff expect to update commissioners on the study during a budget workshop this summer, with a formal discussion scheduled for October, after more analysis.

“It’s very technical and certainly lengthy,” Wreford said.


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Currently 3 Responses

  • 1.
  • There's an issue with the Army Corps study - they only did projections of the impact for 1 and one half years out because they had limitations in their computer power. Really? 1.5 years? How can we realistically make a decision based on incomplete data?
  • jon loa
    Mon 16th Jun 2014
    at 5:34pm
  • 2.
  • Natural systems are not the forte of the army corps, engineering forceful changes to natural systems is, and it often has led to disasters. One only needs to look to the destruction of the Everglades by the corps to be reminded of this. They should stick to roads and bridges where remedies for major mistakes are available when needed. Disruption of major natural systems always leads to unforeseen problems.
  • sarasotan
    Sat 14th Jun 2014
    at 3:21am
  • 3.
  • This article, was in the newspaper Friday, March 7, 2014

    The struggle to safeguard the sands dredging plans digs up dissension.
    The Army Corps of engineer's 50 year plan to dredge Sarasota big pass. They plan to mind 1.1 million cubic yards of sand from the pass and deposit it on Lido Key. They also want to install 3 groins on the beach at a cost of 22 million up to $27 million dollars. They plan to do the same thing every five years.

    Tiger Bay club had a panel of three gentlemen Mr. Rob Patten, Mr. Len Smally and Mr. Jono Miller .

    Mr. Patten is a coastal conservationist and I'll quote him, ''It's not about Lido versus Siesta. It's not about the city versus the County. It's about what is the right thing to do in Sarasota County.

    Mr. Smalley quoted. ''It Would be a severe blow to Sarasota County if there was a half billion dollars worth of damage out
    their rather than 5 million dollars worth of sand washing away.

    Mr. Miller quoted, ''It's fine with me if the Corps wants to say it's technically sound... But I don't think you want a bunch of engineer's telling you whether it's socially and environmentally acceptable.

    This is what I don't understand, not the Army Corps engineers or these three gentlemen has a solution to the problem. They keep doing the same thing over and over again. They all know about a solution that can solve this problem, losing sand off the beaches and then re-nourishing the beaches. They don't want to acknowledge this process because it's never been tried before. It's called the Saltwater Catch Basin and there's not one coastal engineer that will say that it doesn't work. Mr. Jeff Littlejohn who is deputy Sec. of DEP has told me that there was a experimental permit for the Saltwater Catch Basin and has sent me a letter dated July 2, 2013 and it read:

    Dear Mr. lebuffe,
    Thank you for meeting with me on June 24, 2013 to discuss innovative technology with regard to the inlet management. The Florida Department of environmental protection(DEP) is interested in approving the efficiency of an inlet bypassing reducing the cost of inlet maintenance and reducing environmental impact associated with conventional dredging. As such DEP supports the development of innovative technology that could further these statewide objectives.

    During our discussions ,I was encouraged to hear about the performance of the Salt Water Catch Basin during bench scale testing. DEP acknowledges that it would be in the state's interests if the technology performed as efficiently in a full-scale application. As such, DEP would welcome the opportunity to review an experimental coastal construction permit application for the innovative technology, once appropriate inlet has been chosen as a demonstration site. As we discussed, an application for an experimental permit will not adversely affect the status of any existing permit for that inlet, nor will it affect the priority ranking of the inlet in the annual statewide funding program for the beach and inlet management project.
    If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Daniel Irwin, Deputy Director of DEP's division of Water Resource Management, at(850) 245-833

    Jeff Littlejohn, PE. E.
    Deputy Sec. for regulatory programs

    This is what I wrote and the Observer paper published it on Thursday, February 13, 2014

    To whom it may concern:

    With much thought and concern I am writing to express my fears of a potential catastrophe to the Sarasota area, as well as cities located on the Gulf of Mexico.

    As most people are aware, especially boaters in our area, the inlets have been inundated with sand and have caused navigational problems. The shallowing of these waterways has caused inconvenience and obstructional dangers. This is not my major worry. Although the Army Corps(expensive) fix, with every few years to repeat the process. The buildup of the sand blocking the inlet, has created a literal wall that impedes the floor of water in and out of our bays and estuaries. With this Avenue of release blocked, the water with a storm or hurricane has nowhere to go and will build up against our beaches not only cause major erosion as we have experienced in the past but may overflow the barrier islands(Siesta key, Lido key and Longboat key) and directly flood the mainland beyond. Consider the property damage to downtown and the surrounding areas if this should occur as well as the potential loss of life. A better solution must be found to address this problem only when the wall of sand that clogs the inlet becomes the major problem. Federal and State funds of becoming more scarce. That means in the future delays will become more pronounced. Do we wait for a disaster to strike us or do we find a remedy to solve this problem. Rather than continue temporary''fixes''by dredging which are costly and may be delayed or ignored because all of the lack of funding in the future. There may exist a permanent solution to this problem at a minimal cost to our taxpaying citizen. It appears that the powers have ignored the solution for various reasons, one among them the practice of dredging. Although a temporary repair, it is what the community is used to at a great cost. I have done my research and a simple solution does exist, a Saltwater Catch Basin, that redirects sand from the inlets and back onto the beaches. It is a''natural''recycling of sand to renourish our beaches and allow the inlet to remain navigable. Let us not wait for a disaster to strike causing irreparable harm and also to keep our navigable waters open to all.

    Calvin lebuffe

    One thing I left out, that the Saltwater Catch Basin can be installed at the end of a jetty.

    Now this is my opinion, groins do not work they undermine the beaches .A good example , they installed groins at Siesta key and there's no sand. Jetties don't work, example Venice inlet, there is two jetties if you look at the North jetty you will see sand. If you look at the South jetty you will see rocks quite a distance South.

    Charlotte County installed tubes that did not work. The Army Corps made them take the tubes out at their cost.

    Big pass, New pass, and Midnight pass. They should all be open to relieve the storm surge of water. That's why I wrote the article for the Observer so the public will understand the major problem we have.

    Midnight pass has been closed for many years. They tried to open it up and the Army Corps said no because they told me there wasn't a problem in opening it up. The problem was keeping it open that it was too expensive. I approach the power to be, about the Saltwater Catch Basin and I was told maybe three or four years down the road, it would be feasible for them.

    Maybe, we the taxpayer should start getting involved and asked the county why

    Yours truly,

    Calvin lebuffe
  • Calvin LeBuffe
    Fri 13th Jun 2014
    at 11:11am
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