Florida Beaches Run Short of Sand

Federal legislation would permit importing sand
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2022 1:45 PM CST
Florida Beaches Run Short of Sand
A lifeguard hut looks out to the ocean as Tropical Storm Nicole makes its presence felt on Nov. 9 in Cocoa Beach, Florida.   (Ricardo Ramirez/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Florida beach communities have had to replenish their supplies of sand before, but there's renewed urgency after recent hurricanes. A consultant said Jacksonville's beaches lost about 1.2 million cubic yards of sand to Tropical Storms Ian and Nicole, more than the 2.7 billion pounds brought in to counter the damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the Florida Times-Union reports. The loss endangers more than tourism. Oceanfront buildings need to be shored up. In Jacksonville, the barriers protecting neighborhoods, businesses, and wildlife from storm surge are smaller now. "The beach had already been eaten up by Ian," the consultant said, when Nicole hit earlier this month. "It was down to a very slim fighting weight."

Homeowners just south of Daytona Beach hired a contractor to help in the wake of Nicole after some houses, swimming pools and porches fell into the ocean. He'd usually get sand from underwater mounds or beaches elsewhere in Florida, but those sources are drying up. That's driven the price of sand up, per the Washington Post. Saving each house will require an average of 275 dump truck loads pushed under it, AJ Rockwell said. At $1,200 a load, that's $330,000 per house. A report published months ago said more than half of Florida's sand beaches are critically eroded, and that was before Ian and Nicole.

Miami-Dade County already trucks in sand from inland mines for its beaches. Palm Beach County is looking into using barges to bring sand from the Bahamas. A change in federal law would be needed to import sand, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Lois Frankel have proposed such legislation. It's stalled in Congress, per the Post. "I think we're starting to discover that, despite our best efforts and wanting to throw as much money at this as possible," said geology professor Robert Young, "it has become very difficult to keep these beaches as wide as we would like to keep them." (Read more Florida stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.