Council wants to be crystal clear on dumped sand issue

After hearing complaints about the county dumping “muddy” sand to replenish Mid-Reach beaches, the Indian Harbour Beach City Council wants to hear solid science that the material is good for – or at least not harmful to – our reef and wildlife.

The move to request a workshop came after Matt Fleming of Save the Mid Reach urged the IHB council to spend $10,000 on its own tests of the sand. Fleming admitted the sand being used technically meets the county requirements but he questions the criteria for the grain size and silt content.

For decades, sand had been pumped via an elaborate dredge operation from the ocean floor. To save money and provide local jobs, governments began using sand mines nearly 10 years ago. Indian River County was one of the first to get a large-scale beach project using processed mine sand permitted by state environmental regulators, paving the way for the current projects on Brevard’s south barrier island to gain approval.

About 30,000 cubic yards of this upland mined sand is being dumped on the beach currently as an emergency repair, with more to come. Fleming opposes plans to dump 15 to 20 times more of what he describes as “unspecified material” on Mid-reach beaches.

Fleming has appeared before the Satellite Beach City Council several times on the issue but this was his first appearance before the Indian Harbour Beach council. Save the Mid Reach will also hold a public protest from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 at Pelican Beach Park in Satellite Beach. Indian Harbour Beach City Manager Mark Ryan said the workshop has yet to be scheduled.

After the meeting, Fleming said the IHB council, even though the sand renourishment projects are not funded by the city, now realizes they have some catching up to do on the sand quality issue.

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