A renourishment project
is launched to help slow the relentless erosion
of the key's Gulf shoreline
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
There's a lot of activity on that small spit of sand north
of Anna Maria Island in Tampa Bay called Egmont Key and
when it ends, there will be more of Egmont to appreciate.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a renourishment project
last Friday that is expected to last 90 days and add a million
cubic yards of sand to the key. According to Pinellas County
Coastal Coordinator Dr. Nicole Elko, the sand will help
protect the historic fort there.
"The project will add sand a mile long, some three-fourths
of the beach area on the west side of the key," she
said. "It will go out 200 feet, form a berm and then
gradually incline into the water."
The project is part of a Corps dredging project, a regular
event to deepen the shipping channel in Tampa Bay. The sand
that it brings up is being transported to Egmont and pumped
ashore, according to Corps Project Manager Tim Murphy.
"We normally dredge the channel about every 10 years,"
he said. "It just so happens that the material we brought
up was the right quality for putting on Egmont Key."
Murphy said that after it finishes renourishing Egmont Pinellas
According to Elko, the last time the Corps renourished Egmont
was in 2000. She said it is renourishing the same area as
then and are placing two geo-tubes on shore to help prevent
"Geo-tubes are sand filled polyester bags that are
about 200 feet long," she said. "They will be
situated perpendicular to the beach like a jetty.
"Being polyester, they are more environmentally friendly
than using other materials because they decompose over time,"
she said. "We placed two of them during the last project
and they lasted until last year."
Egmont Key was once used as a guard post for Tampa Bay.
A fort and gun batteries were built in 1898 to protect the
bay, but erosion has caused the water to creep up the beaches
to the point where at least one battery is surrounded by
water. Murphy said water is lapping at the fort now and
it is becoming undermined by water. He said that's one reason
the Corps is trying to built up the beaches. The 400-acre
island is 1 1/2 miles long and less than a half-mile wide.
The overall dredging and renourishment project costs $15
million, according to Elko, and will come from the Corps'
maintenance budget. Murphy said using sand dredged from
the channel is something the Corps will continue doing.
"We made a commitment in writing that every time we
dredge Tampa Bay, we would study the sand to see if it is
the right quality to use for the beaches," he said.