The US is looking at Bahamian sand as a resource to shore-up Florida’s eroding coastline, an Associated Press (AP) story revealed. The story explained that the Water Resources Development Act recently authorized the Army Corps of Engineers “to study the potential of using foreign sand, such as from The Bahamas, to widen shorelines and protect coasts from hurricanes.”
In recent years, Miami-Dade County and Broward Country have used dredged sand to restore their coastlines but, according to the AP story, those resources have been exhausted and the U.S. is looking outside its borders for sands for its restoration projects.
“In its ‘Shrinking Shores’ investigation last year, the Naples Daily News reported Miami-Dade and Broward counties have exhausted their deposits of available offshore sand, leaving only sand that is too far offshore to retrieve or is nestled among protected reefs or other underwater marine features,” the AP story said. A federal search found enough sand to last 50 years, but beach project managers told the Daily News the sand is too dark and there is a risk of triggering sand wars with other coastal counties.
Project managers said Bahamian sand is the region’s best chance to end expensive and inefficient sand hauls from inland mines.
The AP story revealed that a ban by Congress prevented the U.S. from importing sand from foreign countries to bring its shorelines back to their former glory. Florida, like The Bahamas, is highly dependent on its beaches as a driver for its tourism industry.
“The ban, backed by the U.S. dredging industry, on spending federal money on beach projects that use foreign sand, stands in the way,” The AP said.
“Coastal communities can ill afford to forgo federal money for their beaches, the Daily News found.”
“Florida members of Congress tried again last year, unsuccessfully, to lift the ban.”
Lifting the ban means the US government could begin having conversations with the Bahamian government over such a prospect as dredging this country’s seabed. However, a study will still need to be completed by the Corps of Engineers and a nod by Congress to loosen the tight grip of the dredging industry.
“An end to the ban on foreign sand is only part of any solution that would allow use of Bahamian sand,” the story said. “US law, also backed by US dredgers, prevents foreign-flagged vessels from bringing sand from The Bahamas to eroded Florida coastlines. To get around the law, sand would have to be transferred to a US-flagged vessel, an expensive extra step.”