South Ponte Vedra Beach

and Vilano Beach

South Ponte Vedra-Vilano Beach
Restoration Association, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQ's)

We hope that the following questions and answers will help you understand the reason that South Ponte Vedra-Vilano Beach Restoration Association, Inc. was formed. . 

Each of the categorized questions has one or more detailed questions and answers to further explain the specific process of our beach restoration. You can always click on "Main" to start back at the original categories.

What has happened to our beach?
  1. How bad is the erosion?
    The erosion rate has been accelerating, the beach continues to narrow, and the natural cycle of erosion followed by accretion has been disrupted.

    A 2008 Study shows that the rate of erosion (sand loss) intensified by a 20-fold factor during the period 2003-2008 compared to the baseline period of 1972-2003.

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to add segments of the north beaches to its list of “critically eroded” coastline:

    • First, the section on Coastal Highway extending from the Reef Restaurant to just south of the Beachcomber. (FDEP survey monuments R109 to R117)
    • Next, the section in South Ponte Vedra from the Exxon (formerly Gate) Station to the public park across from the Fire Station. (FDEP survey monuments R84 to R94)
    • Most recently, the section from the Fire Station to about ½ mile north of the Serenata condominium complex. (FDEP survey monuments R94 to R98)

    “Critically eroded” means that in FDEP’s opinion the erosion and recession of the beach or dune system threatens upland development (such as our houses, as well as the road), recreational interests, wildlife habitat, or important cultural resources.

    During the severe erosion events of the past several years, some locations (“hot spots”) lost on the order of approximately 30 feet of dune over the period of a few high tide cycles, resulting in dramatic, and structure-threatening, loss of land, and in some cases condemnation of the structure until repairs could be made.

    Since 2005, more than 50 homeowners have constructed, been permitted for, or are currently applying for permits for armoring to protect their structures from total destruction. In addition, many homeowners have rebuilt walkovers and stairs for beach access numerous times.

    Property owners who need to protect their property from sudden erosion destruction face numerous, and sometimes, insurmountable hurdles. South Ponte Vedra Beach Erosion

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  2. Has a cause for our erosion been determined? Yes, and no.....
    As a result of our Feasibility Study, we learned that major dredging projects of 2003 and 2005 removed over 7 million cubic yards (mcy) of sand from the St Augustine Inlet area, including the ebb shoal near the mouth of the inlet. Yet another dredging in 2012 increased that total to 9.4 mcy. These voluminous dredgings were not to maintain navigation channel safety but rather to provide the sand for nourishment of St Augustine Beach. Navigation channel dredging have historically been less than 200,000 cubic yards, and not repeated for many years. The dredging amounts far exceeded the limits defined in the 1993 St Augustine Inlet Management Plan, which should have been updated with revised limits by 2003, but was not.

    As a result of the SPVVPA’s formal petition against the most recent dredging permit, one of the many concessions in a Settlement Agreement was an update of the Inlet Management Plan, which as of 2014 defines much lower limits of dredging and requires that dredged sand be returned to not only the beaches to the south but also those to the north.

    All 3 of the dredgings have been followed by severe erosion periods on the beaches of South Ponte Vedra to Vilano, with numerous properties endangered. The correlation cannot be denied.

    It is notable that various studies and experts’ claims have evolved since we began our challenge.

    The settlement agreement,supporting studies by the Army Corps and by Florida State University for the DEP, and the revised Sediment Budget and Inlet Management Plan continue to weaken attempts to state definitively that the inlet dredging did not cause the erosion. Study statements such as “most likely not,” “not to be construed as a finding” “nor does it suggest”, “data…does not exist ..at present” do not prove the claims that storms, not dredging, cause the erosion.

    Yet, the Corps of Engineers and the County’s defense continues to be that the facts have not proven that the inlet dredging caused erosion to the beaches from South Ponte Vedra to Vilano.

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  3. Can we expect the beach to restore itself naturally?
    Some of our property owners have commented that “nature always brings it back.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Many more long-time property owners have commented that while they have seen the sand come and go over many years of observation, in the last several years the sand no longer seems to be coming back. The extensiveness and speed of the recent erosion of our beach, without a natural cycle of repair, are indicative of some serious problems, which might not have existed before.

    The FDEP, after a 2007 review of the erosion data for our beach, determined the situation and trend were “alarming.” Their opinion is that beach nourishment is needed to restore the health of the beach.

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  4. Have property values been affected?
    The County Property Appraiser is sensitive to the negative impact the eroded beach has had on the market value of the properties. For example, following the 2007 devastating erosion, the assessed land values of numerous properties were reduced by as much as 50% depending on their proximity to the erosion “hot spots”. At the time, we calculated that the total 2007 reduction in “just values” on these eroded properties was more than $20,000,000. At a tax rate of 16 mils, that represented a decline in County tax revenues of $320,000 per year, and a significant loss of equity for property owners. Subsequent damaging erosion events have resulted in similar reduced assessed land values. The loss in value for coastal properties results in softening of overall real estate values in the area.

    The good news is that properties located in areas with nourished beaches normally enjoy increased property values after restoration, as documented in numerous studies, including one conducted under a contract with the DEP’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems. The economic benefits apply not only to individual property owners, but also to the area’s economy in general, as well as the county property tax collections. Healthy beaches also contribute to federal, state, and local tax bases, providing increased income and employment opportunities for residents as well as increased visitor spending.

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  5. Has there been any impact on the habitat, specifically turtle nesting?
    Sea turtles have difficulty nesting on an eroding beach, and those nests are more susceptible to overwash and predators. On a narrow or nonexistent beach, birds have no place to nest or feed. The profile of much of our 10 mile beach has become primarily a deep scarp at the edge of the bluff or dune, and the highest tides continue to wash up to that scarp line. Sea turtles will not nest in wet sand or climb a 90 degree incline to reach dry sand. Nests created in vulnerable areas are in danger of damage or wash-out by storms or high tides.

    Our property owners are very concerned about maintaining the turtle habitat, many “adopt” turtle nests in support of the local Turtle Patrol, and some are volunteer members of the Patrol. In the critically eroded areas, we have observed a reduced number of attempted nests as well as over wash of laid nests during high tides.

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  6. Is our erosion situation unique?
    Perhaps what is most unique about our situation is that we are fortunate in that we are being faced with these erosion issues much later than other coastal areas, in Florida and other coastal states. Numerous other shorelines have already been protected through restoration and other means since the 1970s.

    The state of Florida recognizes the serious implications of beach erosion. “Because beach erosion is a serious menace to the economy and general welfare of the people of this state and has advanced to emergency proportions, it is hereby declared to be a necessary governmental responsibility to properly manage and protect Florida beaches fronting on the Atlantic ocean, gulf of Mexico, and straits of Florida from erosion and that the legislature make provision for beach restoration and nourishment projects . . .” [Florida statutes 161.088]

    There are more than 50 beach nourishment projects currently being monitored by the Florida DEP. Other coastal states have numerous projects as well. Many of you may remember the devastating erosion in Jacksonville Beach, St Augustine Beach, and South Amelia Island before those beaches were nourished and restored.

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