Beach erosion threatens the very resource that residents and visitors enjoy. Over 485 miles, or approximately 59 percent of the state's beaches, are experiencing erosion. At present, about 387 of the state's 825 miles of sandy beaches have experienced "critical erosion," a level of erosion that threatens substantial development, recreational, cultural or environmental interests. While some of this erosion is due to natural forces and imprudent coastal development, a significant amount of coastal erosion in Florida is directly attributable to the construction and maintenance of navigation inlets. Florida has over 60 inlets around the state. Many have been artificially deepened to accommodate commercial and recreational vessels and employ jetties to prevent sand from filling in the channels. A byproduct of this practice is that the jetties and the inlet channels have interrupted the natural flow of sand along the beach, causing an accumulation of sand in the inlet channel and at the jetty on one side of the inlet, and a loss of sand to the beaches on the other side of the inlet.
One way to restore eroded beaches is through beach nourishment (notice it is not called "renourishment"). In a typical beach nourishment project, sand is collected from an offshore location by a dredge and is piped onto the beach. A slurry of sand and water exits the pipe on the beach and once the water drains away, only sand is left behind. Bulldozers move this new sand on the beach until the beach matches the design profile. Beach nourishment is a preferred way to add sand to a system that has been starved by the altered inlets because it provides a significant level of storm protection benefits for upland properties and has the least impact on the coastal system. An additional benefit of beach restoration projects is that they quickly restore shorebird and marine turtle habitat.
Local, state and federal entities are now managing over 200 miles of restored beaches in Florida.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.