Posted on 11 May 2017 by LeslieM

Dear Editor:

I’ve been following the Deerfield Beach-Hillsboro sand erosion problem with great interest. I live in this area (over 25 years) and have always observed the natural ebb and flow of beach sand. Yes, there are times when there’s less sand as a result of wave action; however, this illustrates the natural ebb and flow of the sand.

Hillsboro has re-nourished their beach at least three times that I’m aware of yet never, let me repeat, never have I observed any attempt on their part to retain the sand. They claim the Deerfield Beach groins block the natural flow, however, the beach looks full to me. Their erosion problem is not caused by our groin system. Deerfield Beach doesn’t allow structures to be built on the beach. Hillsboro does, with condos built right up on the sand to the high water line. Could that be a cause of their problem?

To quote their Mayor:

Hillsboro Beach spent $17 million in 17 years on beach remediation. The last major nourishment done by the Town was in 2011 at a cost of $6.1 million, financed with a 10-year loan that retires in 2020. The sand from the 2011 nourishment was gone by 2014, leaving six years of payments for a beach no longer there. Since the cost of sand is rising exponentially as the resource becomes more and more scarce, the next major nourishment is estimated to cost as much as triple the 2011 expense.”

My question is why have they never made any attempts to retain the sand? Rather than fix the blame (on Deerfield Beach) perhaps they should look at ways to fix their problem. Just my 2 cents.

Henry Gould

Deerfield Beach

[Response from Hillsboro Beach]: The best way to understand the situation between Hillsboro Beach and Deerfield Beach is to think of the water wars out west. Water flows downstream, and so does the sand on our coastline. Building structures to trap the natural sand-flow starves downdrift beaches, just like damming water on a river harms people downstream. Deerfield has 56 sand-trapping structures called groins. Since the rock piles go all the way to the municipal line, the final scouring effect created by the structures is forced downstream into Hillsboro Beach. Building more structures simply pushes erosion to another place. Pompano Beach (and sea turtles) would not be very happy with Hillsboro Beach if Hillsboro were to install manmade structures all along our coastline; and, in reality, a massive groin field that pushes erosion into another municipality would not be approved today.

Deerfield was given permission to build their groins over 50 years ago. Coastal science has come a long way since then, but, even 50 years ago, downdrift erosion was acknowledged in the permits granted to Deerfield. In order for Deerfield to be allowed to build those structures, they had to accept certain conditions. One of the conditions, clearly stated in the permits, is that any downdrift damage caused by the groins is the responsibility of the permittee to rectify at the permittee’s expense – the permittee being Deerfield.

Yes, the beach erodes and accretes because occasionally the flow of sand reverses itself for a short period of time, like it did for a couple of weeks last month. Ultimately, however, the sand flows far more often from north to south on our coastline, and manmade structures that interrupt that flow always cause erosion on the downdrift side. Most people would agree, building more structures would only create more problems for our fragile beach environment.

Deb Tarrant, Mayor

Town of Hillsboro Beach

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