Martin County receives draft permit to dredge St. Lucie Inlet

Martin County has received a draft permit to dredge the St. Lucie Inlet. (Source: Martin County Board of County Commissioners) 

Martin County has been granted a draft permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for periodic maintenance dredging of the St. Lucie Inlet. This will allow the County to continue maintaining the impoundment basin and navigation channel of the Inlet and bypass the sand onto beaches in the county both north and south of the project area. Dredging will continue to be conducted in accordance with the State approved Inlet Management Plan, based on need and available funding.

The timing of the permit is critical, as Martin County will remain eligible to apply for funding for the inlet dredging project through the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND). The permit also gives the County the ability to respond to any emergency conditions or natural disasters that could negatively impact the inlet, a critical need in the aftermath of a hurricane or other severe storm activity.

The St. Lucie Inlet is vital to Martin County both environmentally and economically. The Inlet serves an essential environmental function, flushing water discharged from Lake Okeechobee via the St. Lucie Canal into the Atlantic Ocean. It is also one of the richest and most diverse estuaries in North America. The inlet is where the exchange of fresh and salt water occurs, providing essential habitat for estuarine and marine fish nurseries.

From an economic standpoint, our waterways provide approximately $362 million in annual sales, $123 million in personal income, and $588 million in property values. One out of every 10 jobs in Martin County is marine related and safe navigation of the inlet is vital to those who rely on our inlet for their livelihoods.

The permit provides for a 14-day comment period by persons with substantial interest in the project. Should any substantive objection to the permit be made, it could not only derail the opportunity for funding through FIND, but it could also leave Martin County unable to respond to any impact from natural disasters on the Inlet as we approach the peak of hurricane season.

The County continues to work with other government agencies and local partners, as it has for years, to implement a portion of the state’s 1995 Inlet Management Plan and continues to do so as both the Inlet Plan and permit are updated.

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