PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM | SUN
No, it’s not an oil spill. State conservation officials say
it’s a combination of tannic acid and several types of
algae blooms that colored waters on the bayside
of Anna Maria Island on Wednesday after Tropical Storm
Debby passed. Though considered harmless, the combination
could lower the oxygen in the water, which officials
said could produce fish kills. If you see a fish kill,
BRADENTON BEACH – The sand that was washed away from Coquina Beach by Tropical Storm Debby might end up on shores of Holmes Beach or Anna Maria, according to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker. That means the southern beaches of Anna Maria Island will be more vulnerable to erosion than many would deem comfortable. The federal government might have a solution, but the question is, “how soon?”
A renourishment project takes a long time to initiate with mounds of paperwork and permit applications.
“If we got approval for an emergency project,” Hunsicker said, “it would be at least a year before you would actually see new sand on the beach.”
Hunsicker took storm assessment specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for tours of the beach Saturday and Monday. While the specialists did not want to talk, Hunsicker said the beaches to the south are battered, but the beaches are still strong to the north.
“We lost two to three feet in beach depth and from 20 to 40 feet of width,” he said. “Most of the heavy erosion was on the beaches south of 30th Street.”
Hunsicker estimated the damage to Coquina Beach alone was $2.3 million.
The FEMA officials were taking stock of the beaches from Venice to Tarpon Point, and if they find a need, they might recommend an emergency renourishment. Over the weekend, Florida Governor Rick Scott requested a state of emergency proclamation from President Obama, which would pave the way for the FEMA renourishment. Relief would come directly to the counties.
“A FEMA renourishment would only apply to beaches that were renourished with federal funds,” Hunsicker said. “That would apply to Coquina Beach, which was done in April of last year.”
That renourishment covered areas in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria that had not been included in the original project in 1992 or the subsequent one in 2002.
Manatee County already has a renourishment project planned for 2014 or 2015, and Hunsicker said an emergency project might be combined with the one already planned. If not, it would precede the planned project by about a year, he said.
In addition to removing sand from the beaches, the storm leveled a lot of sand dunes, which worked to slow down the incoming water and protect the roads and property on the Island. Hunsicker said new dunes would be a part of an emergency renourishment.
The renourishment projects of the past 20 years have placed some three million cubic yards on the Island’s beaches, according to Hunsicker, and while a lot of it is gone, there is a larger supply in the waters and sandbars offshore.
Another phenomenon following the storm is the existence of dark water offshore in Tampa Bay. That water has a large amount of tannic acid, the result of decaying vegetation.
“That’s what happens when the wind blows a lot of leaves and plant life into the water,” Hunsicker said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute reports that part of the discoloration is due to algae blooms.