Erosion takes costly toll on Pinellas Beaches

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – During late summer storms, waves have pounded the Pinellas County coastline this year with a vengeance. Erosion has taken a toll that frequent beach visitors have noticed.

“The beach was just resurfaced not long ago and all of the orange tubes were covered and I come back and it’s all exposed again. It’s very disappointing,” beach resident Jody Stevens said.

Andrew Squires is the coastal and freshwater resources manager for Pinellas County. He supervises efforts to keep track of beach erosion. Squires said 58,000 cubic yards of sand were lost along Sand Key, Long Key and Treasure Island this year.

It’s sounds like a significant amount but it’s not in the bigger picture of beach erosion. Last year a project to renourish Sand Key replaced 1.25 million cubic yards of sand, but the replacement effort comes at a cost to taxpayers. “Just to give you an example, the last time we did Sand Key, it was over $35 million and that was about a nine-mile stretch of beach,” Squires explained.

Upham Beach has seen a great deal of erosion. In 2006, the county placed experimental sand structures to slow down the erosion on the beach. The structures are working and will be replaced next year with permanent rock formations, Squires said. The expected cost of that project is $11 million.

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