Vol 7 No. 14 - December 27, 2006

Egmont Key gets a new beach

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pinellas County finished a beach renourishment project on Egmont Key on Dec. 10 that placed more than a million cubic yards of sand on the beach. The picture above shows the key after the completion.

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

EGMONT KEY – It’s located in the mouth of Tampa Bay and accessible only by boat, but there’s a lot of history located on the small slip of sand known as Egmont Key.

Fortunately, now there’s a lot more sand.

According to Catherine Florko, project manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the project that began on Aug. 11 was finished on Dec. 10, a month longer than anticipated. But she said there was a reason for the delay.

"They added three geotubes into the sand to protect it from erosion," she said. "If they hadn’t, the sand would be gone in six months."

The renourishment was a cooperative project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pinellas County. Florko said it was unusual to see the county help with the expenses.

"Egmont Key is located in Hillsborough County," she said. "That shows you how much they care about the historic structures there."

Those structures are artillery batteries that were constructed by the United States in 1898 to protect the bay from pirates and the Spanish Navy. Florko said the state was unable to lend a hand in the financing.

"Egmont Key is owned by the U.S. government, which leases it to the state," she said. "That means the Army Corps of Engineers was the lead agency in the project because the FDEP is limited in what it can do when the federal government owns the beach."

The million cubic yards of sand extended the beach an average of 200 feet to the west along three-fourths of the beach’s length. The sand came from a Corps harbor deepening project in Tampa Bay, which kept down expenses.

"The Army Corps is doing a study of the Key to see if it can put it on a regular schedule for renourishment," Florko said.

For now, boaters who leave Anna Maria Island and travel north to Egmont Key will have more beach along its western shore to enjoy.

<< Go back to Index December 20

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper