City of Sarasota gets official FDEP go-ahead to begin emergency beach renourishment project on Lido Key

Work expected to get underway by mid-November, weather permitting

(Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 8 to correct the location of the firm that won the dredging bid.)

A graphic shows part of the design specifications for the renourishment project. Image courtesy FDEP

With the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) having issued the formal Notice to Proceed on Oct. 17, City of Sarasota staff hopes its contractor will begin the emergency renourishment project on Lido Key Beach no later than Nov. 15.

That was the news this week from Jan Thornburg, senior communications manager for the city, in response to a question from The Sarasota News Leader.

“We expect the contractor to begin mobilizing over the next 1-2 weeks,” she added in an Oct. 29 email.

Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association, told the News Leader in an Oct. 29 telephone interview that he had spoken that morning with City Engineer Alexandrea DavisShaw, who had provided the same information to him. She also said that the project should take about 90 days, he added. “We need it,” he said. “There’s no beach at all over here.”

Hurricane Michael was the latest storm, Shoffstall pointed out, to chew away chunks of the shoreline.

A document detailing the emergency project specifications, which the city submitted to FDEP earlier this year, called for the dredging to commence “on or before” Nov. 14 and for the entire project to be completed no later than Feb. 12, 2019.

During its regular meeting on Sept. 17, the City Commission voted unanimously to approve awarding of a bid for the short-term project, which will use sand from New Pass.

The contractor that won the bid is Coastal Dredging Co. of Hammond, La. It was one of two companies that submitted bids for the project. Coastal Dredging’s expense was put at $3,943,000, compared to $4,825,000 from Weeks Marine Inc. in Cranford, N.J.

Officially, the project will place sand on the central and southern portions of the beach between monuments R-37 and R-44, according to an Oct. 17 FDEP document. The numerical designations refer to the system FDEP uses to designate geographical locations on beaches.

The area extends along the shoreline parallel to a point just north of the John Ringling Boulevard intersection to a point just north of Ted Sperling Park, according to maps included in materials the city provided to FDEP.

The last renourishment of the same part of the beach took place in early 2015.

Oct. 16, the City of Sarasota submitted the final materials necessary for FDEP to allow the project to proceed, based on information in the department’s Joint Coastal Permit files, which are available online.

A companion graphic shows design specifications for the project on another segment of the Lido Key Beach. Image courtesy FDEP

In one of those documents, Coastal Dredging provided the qualifications of the firm it will use to handle the monitoring of turbidity during the project — Olin Hydrographic Solutions Inc. of Coconut Grove. “Turbidity” is the measure of relative clarity of a liquid. “High concentrations of particulate matter [in water] affect light penetration and productivity, recreational values, and habitat quality,” the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) explains. “Particles also provide attachment places for … pollutants, notably metals and bacteria. For this reason, turbidity readings can be used as an indicator of potential pollution in a water body,” the USGS points out.

The specifications in the contract for Coastal Dredging call for it “to maintain the quality of the State’s waters”; thus, daily turbidity sampling reports are to be provided to DavisShaw.

Documents the city submitted to FDEP during the summer said 222,500 cubic yards of sand is available in the New Pass borrow area. Under an agreement that has FDEP approval, the city and the Town of Longboat Key have the right to alternate use of sand from New Pass for renourishment initiatives.

In an Aug. 6 segment on ABC7 in Sarasota, DavisShaw said the city plans to use about 185,000 cubic yards of sediment from New Pass for this emergency project.