Can Palm Beach County ERM learn from its mistakes?

27 11 2012

According to a Palm Beach Post article dated June 19, 2012 (“Jupiter’s DuBois Park earns national design award”), Palm Beach County spent $6.2 million  to restore, redevelop, and add new features to DuBois Park.  One of those features is a “1-acre snorkeling area and artificial reef.”

Less than 6 months later the Post, reporting on damage from Superstorm Sandy noted, “At Dubois Park in Jupiter, erosion along the shoreline exposed irrigation lines.  The damage totaled at least $200,000, officials said.”

There is an explanation for this damage.  An engineering solution called a “perched beach,” was improperly applied.  Unless the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Department (ERM) reexamines its plans for beach stabilization at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA), Cato’s Bridge Beach is destined to endure a similar fate.

A limestone breakwater, was built parallel to the beach to provide a snorkeling area and stabilize the beach at DuBois Park. Work was completed in March 2012.

An aerial image taken from an April 2012 ERM document depicts steps taken in Phase II (Shoreline Stabilization & Recreational Amenities).  A wall of stone with small openings was installed to protect the beach area and provide a snorkel lagoon. This design is so closely similar to the JILONA design plan that ERM made the comparison in a presentation to the Jupiter Town Council in 2011.

Proposed breakwater design for the eastern JILONA boundary extending south from Cato’s Bridge.

Recent storm damage at DuBois Park will require $200,000 to repair

Look at pictures of DuBois Park taken 2 weeks after Superstorm Sandy.  Note the severe erosion to the beach area.  Clearly, ERM’s beach stabilization is a dismal failure with a $200,000 price tag to repair.  If a similar situation occurs at JILONA, the damages could include destruction of the historic lighthouse.  We cannot allow this to happen.

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