City of Sanibel is closely monitoring erosion along this section of beach on Northern Sanibel adjacent to Sanibel Captiva Road. Photo provided
City of Sanibel is closely monitoring erosion along this section of beach on Northern Sanibel adjacent to Sanibel Captiva Road. Photo provided

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was provided by the City of Sanibel.

For the past several months, the City of Sanibel has been closely monitoring erosion along a section of beach on Northern Sanibel adjacent to Sanibel Captiva Road.

This area has historically experienced erosion, which in 2015, prompted an emergency beach renourishment project to place approximately 600 cubic yards of sand along 150 linear-feet of the shoreline. The specific area is located between Florida Department of Environmental Protection reference monuments R-110 to R-112.

Sanibel's beaches are very dynamic systems and are continuously changing. In 2018, winds and wave action associated with storm surge from Hurricane Michael substantially changed the shoreline in this area. Because of this violent late-season storm, the beach did not have time to recover before winter winds began producing additional impacts to the beach and shore profile.

Strong west/northwest winds associated with cold fronts additionally erode beaches in this area, moving the sand to adjacent beaches or transporting it to nearshore or offshore sandbars. Sand typically moves onshore during the late spring and summer as prevailing winds shift back to the south/southeast.

While some sand recovery can be anticipated as the beach transitions from its typical winter to summer profile, the City has obtained a proposal from a coastal engineering firm to design, engineer, and permit an emergency beach renourishment project. The proposed project design incorporates a rip-rap revetment to be placed above the Mean High Water prior to the placement of sand.

This proposed revetment will prevent new sand from being immediately washed away and aid in the protection of Sanibel Captiva Road by providing a trigger point for future emergency nourishment projects if needed. This new revetment will supplement a structure installed adjacent to road by Lee County in the early 1990s.

City staff are currently working with a coastal engineer to finalize the project design and expedite the permitting process with FDEP.

As one means of preparing for potential erosion issues in the future, the City is currently collaborating with Florida Gulf Coast University to complete "An Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability Due to Sea-Level Rise and Increased Storminess, on Sanibel, Florida.”

This project is funded through the FDEP's "Florida Resilient Coastlines Program;” its primary goal is to assess Sanibel's vulnerability and coastline impacts due to sea-level rise and storminess. This project will be completed in June 2019 and is meant to serve as a first step for Sanibel to formulate an adaptation plan for sea-level rise, which may lead to mitigation strategies for incidents such as the erosion described above.

To learn more about the project, click here.

For more information, contact Director of Natural Resources James Evans at james.evans@mysanibel.com or by phone at (239) 472-3700 ext. 376; or City Engineer and Community Services Director Keith Williams at keith.williams@mysanibel.com or by phone at (239) 472-6397 ext. 507.