HB puts hold on adopt-a-reef, research committee suggested

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David Wolff Jr., son of the founder of Ocean Habitats Inc. of Micanopy, installs a mini reef March 4 under a dock in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy the Center of Anna Maria Island

Holmes Beach wants to do its part to ensure the local waters are clean and productive.

Eran Wasserman, the city’s development services director, presented during a teleconferenced meeting Sept. 22 information to the mayor and commissioners that suggested further research must be done before the city implements an adopt-a-reef program.

Wasserman also suggested the city form a volunteer committee on water quality.

In August, commissioners approved a project in partnership with the Center of Anna Maria Island to encourage people to purchase small, artificial reef systems created by Ocean Habitats of Micanopy for installation under docks in Holmes Beach.

Each reef forms an ecosystem that supports hundreds of fish, crabs and shrimp and filters about 30,000 gallons of water per day once fully developed, according to the Ocean Habitats website.

The rectangular reefs are about 2-by-3-feet, can be installed underneath a dock and the materials will last about 500 years in saltwater.

Wasserman said Sept. 22 that the city must consider:

  • What could happen if the reefs break free;
  • How the reefs would interact in the ecosystem;
  • The measurable effects of the reefs on the water;
  • Permitting and regulation through state and local agencies.

He said he was waiting on permitting answers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Wasserman suggested forming an ad hoc water quality committee to look at ways in which Holmes Beach could help clean the waterways, including seeding the bay and canals with clams and oysters and resolving issues with fertilizer runoff.

The mayor and commissioners reached a consensus that the reef project would be on hold until the DEP provides permitting information and a volunteer committee on water quality is formed to meet with Wasserman and work on the matter.

The next city commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, conducted via Zoom. Instructions to join the meeting will be provided on the city’s website at holmesbeachfl.org.