Army Corps of Engineers working on second renourishment of South Lido Key Beach, with sand to come from New Pass

Permitting process underway

This is a view of Lido Key Beach on March 10, 2021, after new sand had been placed on it. Ted Sperling Park is at the southernmost point on Lido. Image courtesy of Michael Holderness

Provided that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can obtain the necessary state permit, the next renourishment of South Lido Key Beach will begin in the summer of 2025, with sand coming this time from New Pass instead of Big Sarasota Pass, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

In September 2013, when Milan Mora, the original U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manager of the Lido initiative, unveiled the plans at a Sarasota County Coastal Advisory Committee meeting, he said he anticipated that the beach would have to receive new sand approximately every five years.

In the aftermath of Mora’s presentation, it took almost seven years for the project to get underway. That was a result not only of the permitting process with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), but also a challenge that two Siesta Key organizations filed with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) over the proposed dredging of Big Pass, plus two cases that the Siesta Key Association (SKA) pursued against the City of Sarasota in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, a federal lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Save Our Siesta Sand 2, and then a longer bidding process than the USACE had expected. The initial Lido renourishment did not begin until 2020; it was completed in the spring of 2021.

In response to a News Leader question this week, David J. Ruderman, a USACE spokesman at the Jacksonville District Office, confirmed the original expectation that subsequent renourishments would take place every five years or so. However, he added, “I understand the district is working the possibility of placing sand on the beach at Lido as beneficial use of a navigation channel maintenance project …”

The News Leader then contacted Jan Thornburg, general manager of the City of Sarasota’s Communications Department. She wrote in a June 4 email that the plans call for New Pass to be the sand source, as a channel maintenance dredging project is planned for that waterway next summer. “Once, the USACE receives the necessary permit from FDEP [Florida Department of Environmental Protection], USACE will start the work in coordination with the City of Sarasota,” Thornburg added.

This graphic shows the New Pass borrow area for the next Lido Key Renourishment Project. Image courtesy USACE

During its regular meeting on May 20, the Sarasota City Commission unanimously approved an amendment to a funding agreement with FDEP that dated to Oct. 14, 2021, the document showed. The agreement said that the city was being “awarded additional funds to complete the [Lido Key Beach Nourishment Project] from the fiscal year 2023/2024 legislative appropriation to the Beach Management Funding Assistance Program …”

The total funding rose from $1,379,250 to $2,499,000, the document said.

The Revised Grant Work Plan attached to the agreement noted that the Lido Key project encompassed about 2.2 miles of shoreline. That attachment also pointed out that the federal initiative was completed in 2021 and the supplemental dune nourishment is in development. “Post-construction monitoring is ongoing.”

A chart in that attachment showed that USACE’s estimated share of the expense for the new project has been put at $969,214, with the city to pay an equal sum. A second chart indicated that the construction is to be completed no later than Sept. 30, 2025.

The May 20 agreement was part of the City Commission’s Consent Agenda No. 1. No board member offered comments on the item before the vote.

Design and sand compatibility documents filed with FDEP

In a review of FDEP files this week, the News Leader found several other documents related to the permitting of the initiative entailing the sand from New Pass, which is dredged on a routine basis to ensure that it remains navigable.

One of those, dated April 24 of this year, signed by William Luke Reilly, chief of the Engineering Division of the USACE’s Waterways Branch, says that the new project was designed by USACE staff serving with the Jacksonville District.

The News Leader also found a Sediment Compatibility Analysis dated May 2024, which was filed with FDEP. It explained, “To ensure the sediments from the New Pass federal navigation channel are

compatible with the sediments on Lido Key Beach between FDEP Reference monuments R-35 and R-44 in Sarasota County, Florida, samples from the beach and the navigation channel were analyzed and a compatibility analysis was performed.”

This graphic shows the Reference markers on South Lido Key Beach. Image courtesy USACE

The original area for the 2020-21 initiative was located between R-36.5 and R-44, the USACE noted in its first monitoring report on the effects. An extra 43,251 cubic yards of sand ended up being placed between R-41 and R-43.5, that report added, which resulted in the total of 683,084 cubic yards.

(FDEP has explained that “R monuments are utilized by Land Surveyors and Coastal Engineers to measure the beach topography for determining erosional or accretion trends and to coordinate mapping of beach restoration project boundaries or the project’s engineered performance. They are also utilized by local, state and federal officials for similar mapping purposes. … The R monuments are located at approximately 1,000-foot intervals along Florida’s sandy coastline, with a few exceptions.”)

Then that document said, “The project beach placement area, FDEP R-monuments R-35 to R-44, has historically periodically received material beneficially placed from the navigation dredging of the New Pass, most recently in 2015, and Big Sarasota Pass Ebb Shoal borrow area in 2021.”

A December 2016 document regarding the state’s intent to issue the permit for what ended up being the 2020-2021 project also explained, “Historically, Lido Key beach has primarily been nourished with beach quality sand dredged from New Pass. Since 1964, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has conducted periodic maintenance dredging of the New Pass channel, with sand bypassed onto the northern portion of Lido Key. Inlet dredging and bypassing occurred between 1964 and 1997, and over that time has contributed approximately 1.8 million cubic yards (cy) of sand along the beaches of Lido Key.”

The sediment compatibility report did point out, “The material of the existing Lido Key Beach and New Pass Navigation Channel are very similar; they are both composed of fine- to medium-grained sand sized quartz that is light gray to gray in color with a mean grain size of 0.38 mm and 0.23 mm …”

It added, “In conclusion, the compatibility analysis shows that the channel and inlet material is similar to the sediments of the existing beach and meets the requirements of DEP’s ‘Sand Rule’ guidelines …”

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