The first of the 10-canal Hurricane Irma sediment removal projects in the Florida Keys are underway. Tavernier-based Adventure Environmental, Inc. began the sediment removal project in three Marathon canals. The two Islamorada canal projects are anticipated to start on May 8 and the five Big Pine Key canals are waiting for final permit authorizations.
The activities include mobilizing barges topped with containers, setting up erosion and sediment control areas with turbidity barriers, and staging areas with hay bales to safely remove the sediment from the area.
The project has funding by an Emergency Watershed Protection grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS is the entity that approved which canals received the grant funding.
These sediment removal projects fall under the initial Hurricane Irma Marine Debris Removal clearing project that has a $45.8 million budget. To date, $21 million has been spent. With the addition of the sediment removal projects, a revised completion date of May 20, 2019 was mandated by the grant details. Based on delays with receiving the permits and contingencies for weather, dewatering, and hauling logistics, the County has submitted a 90-day no-cost time extension that, if approved by NRCS, would extend the schedule to August 18, 2019.
“The County is working diligently with NRCS and permit agencies to assist the County in recovering from the damage sustained within the canals throughout the Florida Keys through the debris and sediment removal activities,” said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County Director of Sustainability, who oversees the project.
The County submitted side scan sonar and underwater photographs to NRCS on April 19, which included a total of 224 additional marine debris removal canals, for their review and approval.