Renourishing the Beaches

Miles of Renourished Beaches

Level of Indicator: 2
Type of Indicator: A

Explanation of Indicator
Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches. Their attractiveness results in a significant proportion of the tourist dollars spent in the state. Many of the most frequented beaches, such as the stretch from West Palm Beach southward to Key Biscayne, are threatened by erosion. Periodic beach restoration and nourishment have become common approaches to the problem of shore protection where hard armoring of the shoreline is not feasible or desirable. Beach restoration is defined as the first time sand is pumped onto a beach, while nourishment or renourishment is considered to be the maintenance of a restored beach. Restoration and renourishment provide a protective barrier and a means of retaining the economic value of the original beach. There are few environmental problems related to beach renourishment.

Benefits provided by beach fills include enhanced recreation afforded by wide beaches and protection of landward development from flooding and storm damage. Beach nourishment can significantly reduce damage to structures by increasing their distance from the shoreline and providing a buffer to dissipate possible wave energy. Beach renourishment, other than for strictly recreational values, is mostly undertaken when critical erosion has progressed to the point of immediately endangering property and/or significantly reducing the economic value of the beach. While the frequency of renourishment activity may also be a function of the amount of money available, the length of renourished coastline may provide an indication of the level of erosion rates in critically eroding areas.

Since the beginning of the Beach Erosion Control Program in 1964, the Florida Legislature appropriated $140,743,880 for beach erosion control and for preservation purposes through 1994. These funds are matched with local government and federal funding. The amount of money appropriated for beach restoration accounts for $59,656,917 of this total; beach nourishment projects comprise $30,155,959 of the total. Of this $140,743,880, approximately $133 million were actually used for erosion control. The remaining money was reverted to the State General Revenue Fund. The reasons for excess funding included overestimation of project costs and projects that were, for one reason or another, never constructed.

Data Characteristics
The information can be obtained from Mr. Ralph R. Clark, who compiles an annual report, A Statewide Inventory and Identification of the Beach Erosion Problem Areas in Florida. Mr. Clark can be reached at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Beaches and Coastal Systems, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000, or at (904) 488-3181.

This information is available in hard copy format. There are no costs associated with the acquisition of this information.

The baseline data were established with the first report in 1989. Since then, the report is updated on an annual basis by the Division of Beaches and Shores and is currently available through December 1993.

Data Limitations
This is a strong indicator; however, it may soon be limited by the amount of money available for renourishment activity. Both federal and state governments would like for local governments to finance a larger percentage of the renourishment costs. Due to the large financial investment involved, this may develop into an issue of willingness to pay, for both the local government as well as the local constituency who would have to fund the increase.

Data Analysis
The state's current beach renourishment program includes 37 segments of beach restoration and beach nourishment projects. Seventeen of these are located on the Atlantic coast, with 3 sites located north of Cape Canaveral and 14 south of the cape, where the majority of the beach restoration has been conducted in Florida. Six of the segments are located on the Gulf coast, all in south Florida. Over the last five years there has been a gradual increase in renourishment activity with a significant increase documented in 1991, 1992, and 1993. The number of renourishment sites has increased by 61%, from 23 in 1989 to 37 in 1993. The number of miles, however, has increased less than the number of sites, from 106 in 1989 to 142 in 1993, an increase of 34%.

Number and Miles of Beach Renourishment


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