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Anna Maria pier beach shrinks as city awaits DEP notice

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Looking north from the Anna Maria City Pier toward the Lake LaVista inlet, the beach along the shore of Tampa Bay appears to have shrunk from the original renourished 150-foot width. A recent estimate at high tide found the beach extended only about 90 feet into the water. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Even though Anna Maria may soon have a beach by the city pier that complies with the size authorized by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, officials do not plan to re-inspect the beach.

The renourished beach is the result of a February Bimini Bay-Key Royale Channel dredging project that removed sand from the channel and pumped it ashore at the pier.

In early March, DEP investigators examined the beach created with material pumped from Bimini Bay and determined the city had placed more sand along the shoreline than permitted, and told Mayor Mike Selby the city was in violation of its permit.

The permit authorized enough sand to extend the beach 100 feet into Tampa Bay waters and 200 feet south from the Lake LaVista jetty.

Anna Maria had requested the sand be pumped to the pier as part of its Lake LaVista dredge permit.

Ana Gibbs of the DEP-Tampa field office said the DEP won’t inspect the beach again, despite the claim that the beach is shrinking.

But Gibbs said the DEP has yet to issue its notice of violation to the city for placing more than the permitted amount of dredged sand along the pier shoreline.

At a mid-March meeting with Selby, McKay, the West Coast Inland Navigation District and DEP officials, DEP compliance inspector Lauren Greenfield said the pier beach “appears to extend approximately 40 feet further waterward and 330 feet southeast than what was authorized.”

Sand dredged periodically from the Lake LaVista inlet is used to renourish the same area of shoreline.

Greenfield said investigators in March found the beach sand extended about 150 feet into Tampa Bay waters and was approximately 600 feet long. That would be a violation of 50 feet in width and about 400 feet in length for the renourished beach.

At the time of the DEP meeting in March, Anna Maria public works superintendent George McKay and a WCIND consultant claimed sand at the new beach would probably shrink quickly to a width of about 30-60 feet into Tampa Bay waters.

It appears the prediction is coming true, without the city taking counter measures to comply with the permit and remove the excess sand.

Until the city receives an official notice from the DEP and provides for mitigation and possibly a penalty, McKay said no sand will be removed from the pier beach.

Gibbs said the Anna Maria pier beach problem is “still under review.”

That was good news to McKay.

“Every day we don’t hear from them is a good day,” he said.

And nature seems to be helping the city.

A recent estimate of the width of the beach at high tide found only about 90 feet of renourished beach at its widest point into Tampa Bay, and the length of the beach was around 400 feet. That would mean the width of the pier beach now complies with the DEP permit, but the length of the beach has to be reduced about 200 feet more.

Efforts to reach Selby for comment were unsuccessful, but McKay said if the city receives a DEP notice of violation, it would likely ask DEP officials to take another look at the shrinking beach.

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