Posted by: reefrescue | January 11, 2010

Mismanagement of Juno beach restoration project puts reefs in jeopardy

Reef Rescue calls for a halt to construction until contractor complies with environmental permit.

In spite of daily violations of the FDEP water quality monitoring permit, State regulators are allowing the Juno Beach renourishment project to continue uninterrupted. The permit, issued by the FDEP, requires the contractor to meet very specific compliance standards for the monitoring of project generated silt (turbidity). Standards incorporated into the project permit that are designed to safeguard the coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach renourishment construction.

On every single day of the Juno renourishment project, which began on December 21, Palm Beach County Reef Rescue has documented permit noncompliance for turbidity monitoring. “We have been emailing the permittee (Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management), FDEP regulators and Palm Beach County Commissioners on nearly a daily basis detailing the violations”, said Ed Tichenor, Reef Rescue’s director.

Silt plumes over the reefs were reported by scuba diving charter boats almost as soon as work on the project began. On December 22, dive operators found underwater visibility of less than five feet at the popular dive spot “Shark Canyon”, located offshore of the construction site. “Shark Canyon” is an important ecotourism dive destination and one of the few places left in Florida were divers can be almost guaranteed of seeing Caribbean Reef Sharks. “We’ve had to avoid this location since the Juno project began” said Captain Van Blakeman owner of the scuba diving charter boat Narcosis. “Divers will not pay to go in the water if they can’t see anything and the near zero underwater visibility makes diving with sharks potentially dangerous. Captain Van also cautioned beachgoers and surfers to stay out of the water if silt plumes are present along the shoreline.”

Shark Canyon, Photo by: Chris Doherty from Narcosis website

On January 4, Reef Rescue sent a report to the FDEP in Tallahassee listing 18 permit violations that occurred during the first six days of the project. In addition, to the permit noncompliance episodes listed in the Reef Rescue report, the County (permittee) has failed to submit the required water quality monitoring reports to the FDEP within the timeframe mandated by the permit. In a January 4, email accompanying the report of noncompliance Reef Rescue requested the FDEP take timely and appropriate enforcement actions regarding permit noncompliance and require a cessation of dredging activity until such time as the permittee and contractor can demonstrate a full understanding and willingness to comply with permit water quality monitoring requirements.”

“Unfortunately, this disregard for permit compliance seems to be business as usual for Palm Beach County beach projects, said Ed Tichenor. Nearly identical turbidity noncompliance issues were documented by Reef Rescue during the 2008 Boynton Beach (South Lake Worth) Inlet Maintenance Project (0117708-00 1-JC) and the 2005 Ocean Ridge Beach Nourishment Project (0244200-001-JC). It appears the contractors do not feel compelled to adhere to permit water quality requirements, knowing full well no enforcement action will be taken that could potentially interfere with the projects.

Reef Rescue is not opposed to beach renourishment projects; we believe the project permits issued by the State are adequately written to safeguard the nearby coral reefs. But when the safeguards are ignored it is the responsibility of the FDEP to step in and stop these projects until the contractors can demonstrate an understanding and willingness to comply with the permit requirements.”

Due to the recent Arctic cold front and intolerable diving conditions the impact to the reefs in the vicinity of the project have not been assessed by Reef Rescue volunteer divers.

SCORE CARD – JOB PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Project Permittee/Supervisor Comment
Ocean Ridge beach renourishment 2005 PBCERM/Dan Bates Turbidity violations
Lantana Dune Restoration 2008 PBCERM/Dan Bates Turbidity violations
Boynton Beach Inlet dredge 2008 PBCERM/Dan Bates Turbidity violations
Juno beach renourishment 2010 PBCERM/Dan Bates Turbidity violations
The above is a listing of PBC projects and does not address impacts from the Town of Palm Beach renourishment projects. See: https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/the-town-of-palm-beach-may-have-to-pay-millions-for-reef-damage/

 

Resource Links:

Shark Canyon (before project) video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGMuzKndVgo

 Juno Beach renourishment activity video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DxRRgboFO0

Reef Rescue Juno project report of noncompliance: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25048144

Palm Beach Post: Lantana dune project: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/seeinggreen/2008/02/14/what-a-beach/

Palm Beach Post: Ocean Ridge project: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25050827 

Florida Sportsman: Ocean Ridge project: http://www.floridasportsman.com/casts/051202e/index.html

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Responses

  1. With many sharks now becoming endangered and the fact that marine life is toxic with mercury it benefits neither shark nor human to eat shark. Sharks play a critical role in the ocean environment and their elimination can be highly destructive to the oceans and our future marine food supply. For these reasons the consumption of shark fin soup must be stopped immediately

  2. […] with permit noncompliance issues (see Reef Rescue Blog: Mismanagement of Juno beach restoration project puts reefs in jeopardy) and delays the project will not finish before the beginning of the March 1st turtle nesting […]

  3. Very long write, I dont read all article but, nice ideas.

  4. […] Related post from Juno Beach Silt plumes over the reefs were reported by scuba diving charter boats almost as soon as work on the project began. On December 22, dive operators found underwater visibility of less than five feet at the popular dive spot “Shark Canyon”, located offshore of the Juno Beach construction site. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "travel"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "technology"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_below_post"); […]

  5. So what’s to be done. I seems as if no one give a damn. You can bet you last dollar our Gov. doesn’t give a shit. What next? We need to act, but how?

  6. Good post! i like it, please bookmark this page in digg or mixx so that everyone could find it easily. )) Thankee for sharing this information. You guys are doing a excellent job


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