The City of Miami Beach is a barrier island community located in southeast Florida between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with over seven miles of white, sandy beaches. The City’s beaches are a critical economic, recreational, environmental, storm protection, and erosion control asset for the City of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, and the State of Florida. Last year, they attracted approximately 7 million overnight visitors to Miami Beach which spent $11.4 billion. The beaches also serve as the first line of defense in protecting over $30 billion in taxable property value in Miami Beach against storm surge and sea level rise.
The City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County collaborate to restore and enhance existing habitat on the beaches. Management activities across the City and the County are coordinated by the city’s Environment and Sustainability staff. Other City Departments that are involved include the Property Management Division, the Tourism, Cultural, and Economic Development Department, and the Sanitation Division. The City spends an estimated $212 million in beach management and beach-related activities. Additionally, Miami-Dade County’s Beach Operations spends approximately $2 million in beach maintenance activities in Miami Beach, not including the cost of beach renourishment or other related projects which vary annually.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the publication of the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment for the Miami-Dade County, Florida, Coastal Storm Risk Management Study. The four-year, $3 million study considers the feasibility of implementing engineering alternatives to manage coastal storm risks along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in Miami-Dade County, Florida, over a 50-year period. Federal participation in the existing federal beach nourishment project, initially constructed between 1975 and 1982, will expire in 2025.
The study’s tentatively selected plan proposes periodic beach nourishment in certain locations of Miami Beach. Sand for beach nourishments would come from a range of sand sources including the Baker’s Haulover Inlet Complex, accretional beach and nearshore areas in South Beach, offshore sand sources, and upland sand mines.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District hosted two virtual public meetings on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, to present and discuss the study proposals and answer questions regarding the draft report.
- A recording of the afternoon session can be found here.
- A recording of the evening session can be found here.
Public comment is sought and may be submitted through Dec. 12, 2021. Please email comments to email@example.com or submit them by U.S. Postal Service to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
ATTN: Ms. Kristen Donofrio
701 San Marco Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8175
The City can be copied on public emails via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Corps projects, please visit www.saj.usace.army.mil.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is anticipated to begin their next beach renourishment project in November 2021. This $40,468,000 project is fully funded by the federal government and will address the erosional hotspots in the vicinity of 64th Street, 55th Street, 46th Street, and 27th Street. The project will begin at 64th Street. A recording of the public meeting can be found here.
Please visit the USACE website for more information on this project.
Beaches are living environments that are constantly changing. Fluctuations in seasons and weather can affect the overall structure of shorelines. This can mean that the sand that you see today, may not be there tomorrow.
Strong waves, tidal currents, or winds that result from storms, flooding or even sea level rise remove sand, sediments and sometimes coastal dunes, changing the shape of the shoreline. For example, a beach can lose width or height over time as a consequence of sand being washed away.
In 2015, a progressive step was taken towards ensuring that our beaches are properly protected and restored. The South Florida Mayor’s Beach Alliance was created, uniting mayors of Miami-Dade County’s five coastal municipalities. Through the Alliance, the mayors of Miami Beach, Surfside, Sunny Isles Beach, Key Biscayne and Bal Harbour signed a proclamation continuously urging the county, state and federal government to develop long-term solutions to restore beaches that have been impacted by erosion.
As inhabitants of a beachside city, the value and importance beaches provide to the economy and overall quality of life is understood. Fortunately, the City of Miami Beach, Miami Dade County, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) are collaborating to help keep our beaches healthy through beach renourishment and other erosion control measures.
So what exactly do these methods normally entail? Beach renourishment is best explained as the strategic placement of sand on a beach that has experienced significant erosional activity. The sand for these projects is normally taken from what are known as “borrow sites,” such as sand mines, coastal construction projects and offshore sand banks. While sources of sand can vary from project to project, all sources are required to undergo testing to ensure they are beach compatible and that they meet necessary requirements in terms of safety, quality and sand characteristics such as grain size and color. The material must be approved by the city, the county and the state before it can be placed on the beach.
Beach renourishment is critical in maintaining the city’s first line of defense against storms and the environmental benefits provided by our beaches, including habitat for threatened and endangered species. Similarly, it promotes the recreational and tourism opportunities for which Miami Beach is best known for.
The city is also preparing for the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. In the Miami Beach Resiliency Plan, which is currently being developed, the city is looking at resiliency on a regional scale and determining what coordinated effort will be required from stakeholders to protect, preserve and enhance our natural systems.
While beach renourishment is not the end-all solution to coastal erosion, proper planning over the short and long term will allow the region to minimize its effects as much as possible. The ongoing installation and maintenance of the dune systems serve as a buffer between storm surge and other environmental factors. Other natural solutions include preserving coral reefs. These marine habitats are an important element in helping to keep a great portion of beaches in their place by fortifying the shorelines and preventing erosion.
The City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County collaborate to restore and enhance existing habitat on the beaches. Management activities across the City and the County are coordinated by the city’s Environment and Sustainability staff. Other City Departments that are involved include the Property Management Division, the Tourism, Cultural, and Economic
Development Department, and the Sanitation Division. The City spends an estimated $212 million in beach management and beach-related activities. Additionally, Miami-Dade County’s Beach Operations spends approximately $2 million in beach maintenance activities in Miami Beach, not including the cost of beach renourishment or other related projects which vary annually.
City of Miami Beach is responsible for overseeing the compliance of beach concession operations, special events, and other permitted activities that take place. The City is also responsible for repairing and maintaining beach equipment installed by the City, including dune rope and post, sand fencing, lifeguard stands signage, swim ropes, and other similar items.
Miami-Dade County provides is responsible for daily sand sifting, litter clean-up on the beach and in dunes, waste management, and other similar maintenance activities. As an exception, the City’s Sanitation Division is responsible for waste management on the west end of beach entrances and for the cleanliness of the dunes in areas adjacent to completed beachwalk projects.
The Division of Environmental Resources Management (“DERM”) of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Regulatory of Economic Resources works with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the City to periodically renourish beaches that have been impacted by erosion. Historically these projects have been funded through a cost-share comprised of Federal, State and Miami-Dade County funds.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is responsible for permitting all temporary and permanent construction on the Property, including construction of the beachwalk projects, restoration of the dune system and other similar activities. They are also responsible for reviewing and approving special events that require a variance to FDEP regulations.
Beaches are maintained on a daily basis in a conjoined effort between Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami Beach. The cleanliness of the beaches is an important factor that not only helps protect our primary tourist attraction but also helps maintain the health of our environment. The city’s beaches currently have 358 trash cans throughout its entire coastline and 100 recycling trash cans from approximately Government Cut to 46 Street . The county provides recycling collection for all patrons and beach goers.
In 2016, the City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County created a beach recycling agreement that outlines efforts that can help with improving recycling within the city’s beaches. This includes the initiation of a recycling bin pilot program. The proposed bins will have lids that are expected to not only increase recycling rates but decrease the amount of contamination within the bins.
Wraps for both trash and recycling bins on the beach:
As we continue the program, both the county and city will assess the pilot program for the recycling contamination , the ability for existing recycling contractors to obtain additional bins and/or larger ones for pick-up and increased operating time and cost. At the conclusion of one year, a report will be submitted by Miami-Dade County indicating the findings of this pilot program.
In Miami Beach, seaweed, more appropriately known as Sargassum, is a class of brown algae that floats on the ocean’s surface due to gas-filled berry sized sacs called pneumatocysts. Sargassum is a very common algae in the ocean that can form large floating masses due to currents, winds, and other weather variances.
Sargassum provides a community on the ocean’s surface, creating shelter, nursery, feeding, and breeding grounds for a wide variety of marine life such as marine birds, crabs, fish, sea turtles, and shrimp. Sargassum is often considered as a type of ecosystem engineer. It is of high ecological importance which makes it is an essential part of marine ecosystems. Once it washes up on shore, it takes on another role to benefit coastal systems by providing nutrients to dune vegetation while also aiding in shoreline stabilization and beach nourishment.
Although Sargassum can be somewhat unsightly and have a pungent smell during the decaying process; beached Sargassum does not pose as a health risk to humans or wildlife. Intrusive removal of these mats can lead to more beach erosion and create physical damage to the beaches, therefore, it is often encouraged to leave the seaweed undisturbed, and let the elements naturally wash it from shore.
The city has a beach management plan that involves collaborating with Miami-Dade County to “turn over” Sargassum that washes upon shore. This action is carried out on a daily basis to prevent excessive amount of Sargassum build up and involves burying the Sargassum under the sand. This helps provide nutrients to the beach and dune system without fully interfering with the natural ecology.
Check out the factsheet below read through frequently asked question on Sargassum:
Coastal dunes are habitat for wildlife and support a high biodiversity of flora and fauna. They also keep beaches healthy by accreting sand and minimizing beach erosion rates. The dunes protect coastal infrastructure and upland properties from storm damage by blocking storm surge and absorbing wave energy. A healthy dune system is an invaluable asset to coastal communities like Miami Beach.
The 5th Street beach is an official smoke-free zone!
Residents and visitors coming to our beaches seek areas that are smoke free. Second hand smoke from tobacco is a health risk and can be offensive to others. Additionally, the discarded components of cigarettes are toxic to wildlife, waterways, and beaches.
Cigarette filters, more commonly known as cigarette butts, are one of the largest pollutants found on the sand. An estimated 1.7 billion pounds accumulates in the natural environment on an annual basis. A common misconception of cigarette butts is that they are composed of materials with biodegradable qualities. In actuality, cigarette filters are comprised of cellulose acetate, a fibrous plastic that can take anywhere between 5-10 years to completely biodegrade. Discarded cigarette butts can be carried as runoff from streets to drains, to canals, and eventually to the ocean. Those that are disposed on the beach are often washed away directly into the ocean by incoming waves. These filters then become hazardous to marine organisms which often confuse it as being edible.
Cigarette filters are the single most collected item during beach cleanups each year. They are an environmental blight on streets, sidewalks, and other open areas.