A planned renourishment set for 2015 may come this year thanks to Debby and Sandy.
That’s the word from Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker after a trip to Washington to talk with the National Shore and Beach Preservation Association and federal officials.
Hunsicker said the Coast Guard has been clued in on federal funds available for beaches damaged by Tropical Storm Debby in June and Hurricane Sandy in October.
“We received a letter from Jacksonville that our project is up for consideration for funding,” Hunsicker said. “We were told that authorities saw our proposal, and it is being considered for emergency funding and that may include the rest of the project.”
The county project originally scheduled for 2015 would have covered beaches from north of Coquina Beach to just north of the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria, approximately the same dimensions of the original federally funded project. Beaches south and north of that were beefed up last year in a small-scale renourishment.
It is Hunsicker’s plan to have the entire Island in good shape after the 2015 project, so all of it could be renourished approximately every 10 years or as needed, if it suffers storm damage. The 2015 project has been in the budget for several years, and Hunsicker said that’s a plus because the feds will consider projects already planned first.
As for budget cuts from sequestration, Hunsicker said it would cut 5 percent from the renourishment budget, an amount the county and state could make up.
He said the state is willing to fast track the permitting for the renourishment project if the federal funds come.
“Our continuing work was a factor in getting approval,” he said. “For partners that don’t have much prep work done, the wait for permits and money would be longer.
Hunsicker said the county would get the sand from the same borrow area it used last year, an area north of the Island near the busy channel from Tampa Bay and the Manatee River.
Hunsicker said this project would also include rebuilding all three groins at Coquina and Cortez beaches.
“They will be rebuilt in the same footprints, and all three of the would be done in this project,” he said.
Earlier speculation was that the county would only rebuild two of the structures.
He also said as soon as officials know for sure, they will come to the Island cities to explain their plans.