NEWS: Inlet Dredging Project
Improving Navigation and Reinforcing Beach & Surf Breaks
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved an $8.33 million maintenance dredging project for portions of the Intracoastal Waterway (IWW) and the Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County. The project will begin August 2018 and will take up to eight months to complete.
Dredging projects keep channels open for safe navigation. The excavated material will be pumped via buried pipeline into the nearshore disposal area located south of Ponce Inlet, at New Smyrna Beach. According to the USACE, the project is dredging sand deposited from Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma and two nor’easters, storms that bring heavy rains, rough seas and coastal flooding. The sand is “beach quality” and will be deposited in the water at Sapphire Road. The underwater pipe will be moved occasionally to even out sand disposal between Beachway Avenue and Maryanne Clancy Park.
“Locals and visitors can expect to see improved surf breaks all along the disposal areas in New Smyrna Beach,” said Jessica Winterwerp, Coastal Division Director for Volusia County.
“As long as Mother Nature cooperates, improvements could be seen within two months of the project. Calmer conditions are best for spreading the sand.”
The project will dredge approximately 450,000 cubic yards from the IWW. The pipeline carrying the material will be floated out in the IWW. The material will travel down the IWW via the pipeline then transfer through an existing pipeline sleeve, installed 10 years ago, and deposited in the “surf zone” at Sapphire Road.
Although the sand is not placed directly onto dry beach, the operation is expected to maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impact from finer material. Natural processes selectively sort fine from coarser sediments. The “beach quality” sand will move onshore and finer factions will move offshore.
“The project is unique in that a full hydraulic dredge will be used to hit a design depth, a dedicated channel of 12 feet,” stated Winterwerp. Typical inlet maintenance is done with a hopper dredge, with a primary focus on reducing shoaling.
Some beach enthusiasts are curious if the dredge will stir up any buried treasure or lost items. “The pipeline is approximately 18 inches in diameter,” said Winterwerp. “The dredge does not have a filter basket. The dredge site and disposal areas could have new potential.”
The beach will remain open during the duration of the project.
Visitors do not have to worry about getting sand blasted while swimming; the mixture is 80 percent water, 20 percent sand. The public may observe work trucks commuting on the beach to inspect the pipeline, buried approximately three feet below the sand. Residents in the area can expect to hear noise from the booster pumps associated with pumping the material down to the nearshore disposal area.
Ponce de Leon Inlet has not had maintenance this significant in over 10 years. “In regards to safety precautions during the dredge, it is very important boaters pay attention to the navigation buoys in the IWW,” said Winterwerp.
The work also consists of dredging 10,000 cubic yards of material from the Coastguard Station at Ponce Inlet and placing in Rose Bay disposal area.
For more information, go to Volusia.org/Dredging.
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