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Beach nourishment study moved to Phase II

January 9, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Funds have been allotted to look at an additional scope of work in the development of a feasibility study for alternative technology use for improved stewardship and monitoring of the Estero island shoreline.

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously approved the transfer of $134,234 from the Town's Beach Nourishment Fund coffers for Phase II of the Coastal Management Plan and authorized Manager Terry Stewart to enter into a Professional Services Agreement with Coastal and Harbor Engineering.

Before the approval, Coastal and Harbor Engineering reviewed existing data and studies of Phase I and presented recommendations for continued scope of work to develop an understanding of coastal processes and other factors that control short- and long-term shoreline changes of the island. The next step is to evaluate recommendations and long-term solutions that could maximize coastal stability for its shoreline.

Article Photos

Estero Island as it looks after the beach restoration project of 2011.

Coastal and Harbor Engineering's Josh Carter showed slides of historical surveys, aerial photographs from 1944 to 2011, existing geotechnical data on Estero Island and similar projects that were finished in the nation. His report was well received.

"Our overall goal is to really develop an understanding of the natural coastal processes that are happening on Estero Island and how to visualize changes, not only how it changes but why it changes," Carter said. "Once we have an understanding of that, then it is pretty straight forward to develop a set of recommendations to maximize stability of your shoreline and keep that beach relatively in the same place based on real scientific data and information."

Some time ago, Council decided to direct Town staff to look into alternative technology for beach nourishment after repeated discussion and debate about previous nourishment projects limited beach nourishment from the entire island to just the northern mile-long shoreline, which was completed last year.

It was noted that no new sand is being proposed into the present beach system and that relative sea level rises two millimeters per year while low ground elevations of the island have yielded severe damage from major storms.

"You do get storms less frequently than other parts of the Gulf Coast, but because you have such a low energy environment, those big storms cause more relative damage than other places that are used to getting more storms," Carter said. "They also cause more dynamic and quick changes to the island."

A strategic management plan is being proposed for the island's next 20 years. Hydrodynamic data, including waves, currents and water surface, and geometric volume may also be looked into, but that analysis is optional.

"We can really quantify how the shoreline is moving over time. That will help us better understand the overall dynamics of what we have on the beach," Carter said.

Previous nourishment projects mainly involve Matanzas Pass dredging.

Town Environmental Sciences Coordinator Keith Laakkonen has been monitoring the work of Coast and Harbor Engineering. Questions about the worth of the north island jetty were asked.

"As a little bit of that placed sand goes around (the jetty), that sort of a normal coastal process is somewhat necessary to keep that back side of the island from eroding," said Laakkonen.

Phase III (design of CMP components) and Phase IV (implementation) could come after the anticipated 22 to 26 weeks for Phase II to be completed.

Scientific analysis may serve as the basis for all future coastal management practices on the Beach.

"Our aim out of all of this is to ensure that whenever we make a decision about what to do with beach management, whether it's re-nourishment or any other action, that we have the scientific data that backs up what we are proposing to do," said Stewart. "That way we can give our people in our community a solid assurance that the decisions you make are based upon science."



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