Posted by: reefrescue | January 8, 2016

Palm Beach silt threatens coral reefs

Here is the text from the local CBS TV News story that was mysteriously taken down only hours after being aired.

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Advocacy group and Town of Palm Beach at odds over dredging project

Story by Melissa Howell/CBS12

PALM BEACH (CBS12) — A local advocacy group is pushing back against a dredging project in Palm Beach but officials aren’t saying they’ve done anything wrong.

The Phipps Ocean Park Beach Renourishment project began on Friday.  On Sunday, Ed Tichenor with the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue says silt, a thin grain of sand, was posing some serious threats to the coral reef.

“We found the silt level in the water high above the standard that’s required by the permit that the state issues so they were violating the permit,” says Tichenor.

The standard NTU for how much Silt, or turbidity, is allowed for the project is 29 but Reef Rescue found readings as high as 116.

“If the project generates too much silt, it could smother the coral,” says Tichenor.

But David Olin, an environmental consultant for the town of Palm Beach, says they too did testing and took action.

“We saw that the water quality was elevated.  We took samples and found that they exceeded the permit standards.  At that point, we notified the engineer and the dredge and we shut them down,” says Olin.

The coastal coordinator for the town of Palm Beach says this means no permits were violated and high numbers aren’t unusual at the start of a project. But Reef Rescue is pushing for a closer eye on the project from the state as it moves forward.

Rob Weber is the coastal coordinator for Palm Beach and says “we have our monitors that do all this work for us to ensure that the project doesn’t cause that harm that proven.”

Weber says the cost to stop dredging is already figured into the $16.9 million budget for the project.  Planners say the number one priority is the environment.

The project will take a little over two months to complete and the town says it will continue to monitor the levels of silt to ensure they are not in violation of any permits.

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