Erosion is not a new problem in Dade County, Fla. Beaches in Miami's metropolitan area were first declared in need of help in the 1950s, and beach replenishment projects are undertaken every five years in selected areas.
Now, though, there is a shortage of sand. Sources in the ocean near the beach are almost depleted, partly because man-made inlets along the Eastern seaboard are blocking the natural flow of sand to the area. Going into deeper waters to dredge is more expensive.
Visitors are not complaining yet; their objections still tend to focus on debris in the water and overall beach cleanliness. But hoteliers are upset. "I have the ocean hitting sea walls behind our hotel property," said William Lone, director of the Sunny Isles Beach Resort Association, which has 40 lodging establishments as members. "I have playgrounds in danger of being underwater."
After beach emergency vehicles experienced trouble driving at high tide and some lifeguard stations had to be moved back, sand from the South Beach section of Miami Beach was hauled to the most eroded sections to the north last May as a stopgap measure.
But environmental concerns have played a role in delaying long-term solutions. The town of Golden Beach, for instance, filed a lawsuit that held up the dredging of sand 1.5 miles east in the Atlantic Ocean until last month, when a judge lifted an injunction against the project. The dredging, which would produce about 500,000 cubic yards of sand for beaches in Sunny Isles and central Miami Beach, is planned for early next year.
But Judy Cuenca, the mayor of Golden Beach, said the town plans to appeal the judge's decision and cited "serious environmental risks, like killing the coral reefs" for the opposition to dredging. Brian Flynn, of the Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management, said there are also attempts to get sand from the Bahamas, but that so far the government of the islands, a competitor in tourism, has said no.
Pub Date: 10/13/96