There's a multi-million dollar plan proposed to keep our beaches beautiful. It’s one of the big issues our state leaders will take up in Tallahassee in the days and weeks to come.
The $50 million dollars would go towards beach renourishment projects across the state, replacing the sand that mother nature washes away. It's a $20 million dollar increase from what the state has already budgeted for sand replenishment. The plan would also put in long-term fixes for beaches across Florida.
Indian Rocks Beach is one Pinellas County beach badly in need of a fix.
Yet, it's not the only one requiring a lot of work. Upham Beach got permits 5 years ago to add new T-groin rock structures to hold sand on the beach, but only recently got the $9.5 million from the state to move forward.
Cathy Jedowski and her sisters have been going to Indian Rocks Beach for vacation for the last 40 years.
They've seen big changes to the sand over the years. The beach is smaller now than she’s seen in a while. "We've seen a lot of changes here. One year there was no sand at all. Some years the beach is wide and beautiful," she explained.
Each renourishment takes a lot of money and a ton of sand. This summer, county workers will renourish Sand Key, which includes Indian Rocks Beach. They'll add enough sand to fit over an entire football field, stacked as tall as the biggest high rise in Downtown Tampa.
Erosion is the worst on certain Pinellas County beaches: The North end of St Pete Beach, South Treasure island, Upham Beach, Sand Key and Indian Rocks Beach.
Aside from the additional state funding, Pinellas county would continue to chip in an extra $10 million a year.
Tourist Greg Soper argues that's too big of an investment, “that’s a lot of money to spend on beaches especially when they are this beautiful already,” he argued.
Yet, beach leaders argue it’s a good return on investment. For every $1 spent fixing our beaches, tourists spend $6, and if they stopped re-nourishing them, mother nature would simply wash the sand away, according to Andy Squires in Pinellas County's Coastal Management office.
House and senate leaders will both vote on the multi-million beach plan. If it passes, our local beaches will get the money by July.
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