This past state legislative session, Florida’s beaches got the most funding for renourishment than they have in more than a decade: $50 million.
"I can’t remember the last time that that's been the case," said Deborah Flack, president of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association that makes the case for beach renourishment dollars in Tallahassee every session.
Flack said there are a couple reasons why beaches got as much funding as they did this year. For one, storm damage costs won’t eat up any of the beach money because state lawmakers made a separate budget for Hurricane Matthew repairs—about $13 million.
And two, she said this year, more interest groups came together to push for beach funds.
"Like the realtors and Florida Association of Counties, and that type of thing," said Flack. "We got more visible support from various sources rather than just our local coastal government. I think that helped."
She said in the last decade, the miles of critically eroded beach has increased from 317 miles to 410 miles-- not even counting the damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Flack said this amount of cash will significantly reduce the backlog of beach erosion projects across the state. For example, dredging inlets like East Pass in the panhandle, and like Port Everglades and Fort Pierce on the east coast.
"There are enough studies out there that no one can dispute that primary cause of erosion on Florida’s east coast, where erosion is the worst, are the inlets," she said. "And we have disrupted the flow of sand from the north to the south."
She said these expensive projects will try to replicate nature’s natural flow from north to sound and move the sand past the inlets.
And Flack said, this $30 million to $50 million in funding is supposed to recur in state’s budget going forward. Vested interests are just waiting for Governor Rick Scott to sign or veto the Florida budget that’s on his desk.