Because of the role dredging has played in bringing the region’s ecosystems to the brink of disaster, we will oppose most dredging projects, unless they seek to restore ecosystem functions (historic flows) or are designed to physically remove specific contaminant deposits from the bottom.
The proposed Big Pass dredging and beach re-nourishment project is a case in point.
Suncoast Waterkeeper has been actively engaged in the ongoing dispute over the City of Sarasota’s efforts to mine Big Pass and its protective shoals, between Lido Key and Siesta Key, for sand which it plans to use as fill to “renourish” eroded beaches on southern Lido. The City also seeks to construct a berm from Lido in an effort to capture sand that naturally flows towards the Pass and Siesta’s beaches. The Army Corps of Engineers is driving the process with blunt lack of transparency in a full throttled effort to illegally evade the mandates of Federal Law, which require a comprehensive review of the potential impacts of the proposed project.
The City and the Corps must first prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement, which will thoroughly consider the threats, costs, potential benefits, and alternatives to the current proposal. The threats to the cherished sands of Siesta Key, the functional integrity of the pass for navigation and sediment transport, and to the public lands on the southern portions of Lido Key are too important to rush this project through. We recognize the immediate threat faced by a small number of properties on South Lido and hope to work with the City, County and affected parties to seek a solution that embraces the best available independent scientific analysis and a thorough, open review of the situation.