US$400,000 dredging project deepens entrance to marina following Hurricanes Matthew and Irma

A three-month, US$400,000 dredging project to deepen the entrance to Fort Pierce City Marina in Florida following Hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017 has opened the marina to larger boats and is using the removed sand for the Indian River Lagoon Island.

Prior to the dredging, the marina was limited to boats drafting 6ft or less, but with the removal of nearly 5,000 cubic feet of sand since November, the marina can accommodate vessels with a draw of up to 7.6ft.

Now in its final stage, the dredged sand is being used to bolster the beach on Tern Island, one of the man-made islands completed in 2014 to protect the marina following Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

“Essentially, we’re recycling the sand,” marina manager Dean Kubitschek told TCPalm.com, “And we’re saving money. It would have cost about $100,000 to bring in outside sand to put on the beach.”

The islands “performed as designed”, Edward Seissiger, Fort Pierce engineering project manager, said in an email to the newspaper, but Tern Island needs “minor repairs” to replace sand removed by the hurricanes.

The islands, built to protect the marina from storm surges and to withstand Category 3 hurricanes, have also helped increase the amount of sea grass and the numbers of juvenile fish in the lagoon near the marina and have become home to numerous species of birds, including endangered Least Terns.