Beach Restoration Efforts In Palm Beach County

May 30, 2024

Palm Beach County’s coastline stretches 47 miles for millions of residents and tourists. Its pristine beaches provide leisure and sport for the people, and a home to so many of our natural species.

Our beaches also serve as one of the best defenses against wave damage caused by winter storms and hurricanes. However, the constant erosion of our beaches is an undeniable reality, and maintaining the quality and sustainability of beaches needs to be of highest importance.

The Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management builds environmentally sensitive cost-effective projects to protect and restore the natural function of beaches and dunes through its Shoreline Enhancement and Restoration Program. It encourages improved sand management practices at inlets and the removal of non-native vegetation from sand dunes.

The dunes guarding our beaches play a major role in these conservation attempts. Dunes help minimize erosion and protect coastal infrastructure from storm damage. As salt tolerant plants, they also have deep extensive root systems to ground them. Since 1989, Palm Beach County has constructed over 22 miles of beach and dune restorations for the benefit of tourists, residents and coastal property owners.

Our beaches sustained many areas of significant erosion through the end of 2023 due to repeated strong storm systems and their onshore winds. Andy Studt, who oversees the county’s dune restoration programs, said 70% of the county’s 47-mile coastline, much of it in the northern end, is considered “critically eroded.”

The worse-hit dune-only county project areas have emergency contracts in place to facilitate restoration with engineered dune systems where natural recovery is not possible.

Currently, the $2.5 million Singer Island Emergency Dune Restoration is half-way completed and focuses on protecting publicly accessible beach areas.  Coral Cove Dune Restoration has a $2 million budget and is expected to start immediately upon the completion of Singer Island with a focus on recovery of dune areas within the county park and public access areas.

As for whether more emergency work will need to be done, Studt said the County is at the mercy of Mother Nature, adding: “We have not seen anything like this in decades. We did work last year, never expecting to have to do more this year.”