County applying for $821,250 from FDEP to cover part of expenses for south Siesta Key beach projects

Money would come through Beach Management Funding Assistance Program

On April 26, sand is piled on the south Siesta Key shoreline for the beach repair project. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

This week, the Sarasota County Commission approved a resolution seeking $821,250 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to help cover the expenses incurred for both the South Siesta Key Beach Repair Project completed this year and the second renourishment of that shoreline, in 2016.

The item was included on the board’s Consent Agenda of routine business matters. No commissioner commented on it, which is routine practice in regard to approval of the Consent Agenda.

A county staff memo explains that FDEP administers the state’s Beach Management Funding Assistance Program (BMFA), “which provides annual funding as grants to support up to 50% of eligible costs for beach erosion control projects throughout the state.” Each year, the memo continues, FDEP considers local government funding requests for the money.

Both the second beach renourishment project on the southern Siesta shoreline and the Beach Repair Project are eligible for participation in the BMFA Program, the memo points out.

Previously, the memo explains, the county received funding for the renourishment project “at a rate of 41.31% of the non-federal project cost.

“No matching funds are required per se,” the memo adds. “The state will instead reimburse the County for eligible expenses at the noted rate.”

Further, the memo explains, “The BMFA Program allows eligible recipients to apply for funding to support costs for up to three years following the year of the eligible expense. The amount of the current request [from Sarasota County] is based on estimated costs for activities in 2023”: year of construction, at $258,000; 2024, the first year after construction, at $288,000; and 2025, the second year after construction, at $305,250.

“The cost estimates are derived from actual expenses incurred for previous post-construction monitoring of the South Siesta Key Beach and Manasota Key Beach projects,” the memo points out.

Although the second renourishment of the south Siesta Key shoreline was completed in 2016, the memo continues, the permit conditions “require post-construction physical monitoring ‘annually for a period of three years [after the year of construction], then biennially until the next beach nourishment event or the expiration of the project design life, whichever occurs first.’ ” That monitoring is required this year, in 2025 and possibly in 2027, the memo adds, since portions of that project area were not included in the beach repair initiative this year. The project permit will expire in 2029, it notes.

Then the memo reminds the commissioners that the South Siesta Key Beach Repair Project was funded primarily by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because Hurricane Hermine’s effects in September 2016 — about four months after the 2016 renourishment was completed — resulted in damage to the shoreline.

County Administrator Jonathan Lewis approved the submittal of the application to FDEP for the funding prior to the July 31 deadline, the staff memo says. However, the County Commission needed to approve a resolution of support for the request. The resolution has to be transmitted to FDEP, as an element of the application package, by Sept. 21, the memo adds.

Application details

Joseph J. Kraus, an environmental specialist, is named as the point of county contact on the application for the FDEP grant.

The document explains that what formally was called the 2016 South Siesta Key Beach Restoration, Phase II Project involved about 2 miles “of critically eroded gulf shoreline on South Siesta Key … The project limits extend from 345 feet north of monument R-67 to a tapering end 489 feet south of monument R-77.”

The monuments are not physical structures but a references on a mapping system to show specific shoreline locations. Such references are routine in beach renourishment project details.

This graphic shows details about the limits for both projects. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The initial restoration of the south Siesta shoreline was completed in April 2007, the application notes. “Approximately 922,300 cubic yards of sand was placed in the project area from four borrow sites located 6.5 to 8 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico,” the document says.

During the 2016 initiative, it notes, 749,239 cubic yards of sand was placed on the shoreline. That sand came from three areas in the Gulf of Mexico, located 7 to 10 miles offshore.

The first two years of monitoring of the second project have been completed, in accord with the FDEP permit for the undertaking, the application says.

The South Siesta Key Beach Repair Project added 92,505 cubic yards of sand to the shoreline, the application adds. That sand was delivered, via truck, from an upland source.

This aerial map shows the southern limits of the two projects. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The report notes, “Overall indications are that the beach project has performed well, and that full renourishment may not be necessary if smaller repair projects are undertaken.”

Subsequent to the filing of the application, Hurricane Idalia’s effects produced erosion in the project area. (See the related article in this issue.)

One section of the application points out, “Approximately 30 percent of [the 2016 beach renourishment] project’s total length along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline is zoned GU (Government Use) and is readily accessible to the public via Turtle Beach Park and the adjacent County-owned land.”