Posted by: reefrescue | December 20, 2009

The Town of Palm Beach may have to pay millions for reef damage

The Town of Palm Beach could face millions of dollars in mitigation costs because of damage to Breaker’s Reef caused by past beach renourishment projects.

In December 14, 2009 correspondence to the Town of Palm Beach, the FDEP rejected Palm Beach’s claims of “no impact” to reefs from previous beach renourishment projects and will require the Town to reassess reef damage.

The FDEP questioned the validity of the Town’s post-project reports which monitored the impacts from past Mid-Town beach projects.  The FDEP’s own inspections found portions of Breaker’s Shallow Reef buried by 330,000 cubic yards of sand washed from the beach into the nearby reef ecosystem.

Typically, in this type of situation the FDEP has in the past required the responsible party / permit holder (in this case the Town of Palm Beach) to construct artificial reefs to offset (mitigate) the damage done to the natural reef system. The artificial reef structures generally cost about one million dollars per acre to construct. The FDEP can direct the permit holder to add 1.3 to 1.5 acres of mitigation reef for every acre of natural reef destroyed. Reef mitigation costs to the Town of Palm Beach could run into millions of dollars.

The shallow reefs offshore of the Breakers Hotel are the same reefs the Town of Palm Beach has argued should not be included within the ESA staghorn coral critical habitat boundaries. We now know why the Town of Palm Beach has fought so hard to exclude these reefs from federal protection. If the reefs had been included in the federal protection zone as originally proposed, Palm Beach would now have to answer to the feds as well as the FDEP for their destruction of the coral habitat. We commend the FDEP for not allowing the Town’s manipulation of the data to deflect attention away from the destruction they have caused to the reef.

The NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to issue their final ruling no later than January 6, 2010 on the Reef Rescue petition to include the Town of Palm Beach’s reefs within the federal ESA coral critical habitat protection zone. The Town of Palm Beach opposes the federal protections.

At the same time the Town of Palm Beach continues forward with their plan to use federal tax (FEMA) dollars to deliver more sand to multi-million dollar oceanfront real estate that excludes the public from beach access. You would think people are getting tired of spending ten’s of millions of tax payer dollars on failed beach projects that do little more than provide a source of income for consultants and dredge companies and destroy the environment in the process. These projects have not and will not succeed because too many buildings were constructed too close to the shoreline. It is wrong to expect people in Kansas (and elsewhere) to pay for Florida’s ill-conceived building practices. It would be in everyone’s best interest to focus our resources on coping with the inevitable impacts of climate change, rather than on beach projects that are doomed to fail in the face of rising sea levels.


FDEP December 14, 2009 correspondence:

Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Breakers Shallow link:

Breakers Shallow reef map:










  1. […] costs because of damage to Breaker’s Reef caused by past beach renourishment projects. …read more Share and […]

  2. […] The above is a listing of PBC projects and does not address impacts from the Town of Palm Beach renourishment projects. See:… […]

  3. […] Reef Rescue Blog from December 2009:… 26.509905 […]

  4. […] reported in our December 2009, Reef Rescue Blog, the FDEP rejected assertions from the Town of Palm Beach’s consultants (CPE) that the Mid-Town […]

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