With Manatee County losing about 10 feet of beach a year under normal conditions, there is a need to renourish the beaches every eight to 10 years, according to the county’s parks and natural resources director.
“We have a significant investment in our beaches,” Charlie Hunsicker said during a commission worksession on the county’s beach management program on Thursday.
While beaches farther to south such as Siesta Beach have never been renourished, since the sand is natural, that is not the case for the beaches on Anna Maria Island, Hunsicker said.
“That’s a wonderful benefit that they have, but we don’t have that benefit here in Manatee County,” he said.
It can be costly to renourish the beaches and that cost is projected to increase.
In fact, it is projected that over the next 15 years it will cost $57.2 million for the county’s beach management program, with $17.3 million of that being the county’s local cost share, according to Tuesday’s presentation.
“There is no stopping the inevitable and consistent erosion,” Hunsicker said.
While a portion of the county’s Tourist Development Tax funds are earmarked for beach renourishment, it may not be enough in future years, according to Hunsicker.
The funds “may in the future not keep up with the costs that we have to bear as a local sponsor,” he said.
But while the price of sand is projected to increase when the next renourishment project is needed in 2021-22, it is still less costly than sand in other counties. The last renourishment project in Manatee County cost $25 million, but in Broward County, more than $100 million is spent toward protecting the beaches, according to Hunsicker.
“We have argued for the best sand and paid a little more to get it,” he said.
There are also erosion control structures, such as the recently completed Cortez Beach groins, in place to keep the sand stable. One of these structures at Manatee Public Beach was demolished in 2010 due to unsafe conditions ,but recent monitoring shows that beach is no longer eroding, according to Hunsicker.
“More than likely, it will be a long time before we need to build a groin to protect the beach at that location,” Hunsicker said, adding that a recreational pier is always possible to be built.
Looking farther south to the tip of Anna Maria Island, the Longboat Pass Jetty needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of $5 million, according to Hunsicker.
“This one needs to hold the island from going into the pass,” he said. “The estimated cost is not cheap.”