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Florida hoping to import sand to save disappearing beaches

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 3:20 PM - Florida's beaches are disappearing.

Nearly half of the state's coast is considered "critically eroded" due to storms and poor maintenance. Hurricane Irma, for example, wiped away 170,000 cubic yards of sand in Miami-Dade County alone.

A slew of waterfront condos has exacerbated the issue. Thousands of luxury buildings have been erected in vulnerable areas, speeding up erosion by preventing the natural movement of the coastline.

In the past, officials have used specially-equipped boats called dredgers to scrape sand from the seabed and deposit it on the beach. That worked for a while, but the seabed is becoming deeper, making it too complicated, and expensive, to reach.

Beach managers are now looking to import sand from the Bahamas, but there are hurdles in the way.

A 1986 environmental law makes it near-illegal to import foreign sand, but U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, has introduced a bill that would allow Florida to follow through with the import.

In a news release, Rubio said the move was "desperately" needed.

"This bipartisan bill will modernize an outdated law to give the Army Corps of Engineers greater flexibility in acquiring the sand Florida beaches so desperately need," he told TCPalm.com. "Beach renourishment protects our infrastructure and environment and provides a vital buffer against hurricanes and storms. Our beautiful shores also bring visitors from across the world, and these coastlines are economic drivers for the surrounding communities."


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