Finding sand for beach nourishment projects can be a tough prospect: You need the right kind, and ideally you won’t take it from someone else’s section of beach. But the farther you have to go to get it, the more expensive the whole process is likely to be.
The situation has played out in California and elsewhere around the country. Now the US Army Corps of Engineers has launched an effort to determine the best sources of sand for parts of Florida around Miami-Dade County.
Florida needs a serious amount of sand. According to the Southeast Florida Sediment Assessment and Needs Determination (or SAND) study, over the next 50 years the region will require more than 174 million cubic yards of the stuff to be used in beach nourishment projects. The Corps has tried to account for storm losses, sea level change, and other contingencies in making its estimates.
The good news is that significantly more than that amount is believed to be available offshore in Southeast Florida. The Corps has classified various potential sand-providing sites as Proven, Potential, Unverified, or Depleted, and it’s currently deciding which sources are best, given the depth of formations and the makeup and coarseness of the sand in each.
Possible alternative sources under consideration include upland sources, imports of foreign sand, and deeper offshore sites.