It is an “embryonic idea,” said Martin County Engineer Don Donaldson.
However, given the dearth of federal funds to dredge the St. Lucie Inlet, it is an idea that merits further consideration and may provide a long-term solution to a serious, recurring problem.
Martin County still needs $4 million to remove 300,000 cubic yards of sand from the navigation channel and impoundment basin in the inlet. The county already has financial commitments of $2.96 million (from the state) and $1.25 million (from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) for the $8.2 million project. While county officials continue to lobby federal lawmakers and the Corps for additional funds, they also are pondering a new idea: forming a regional cooperative with other local governments with small inlets that would buy dredging equipment or hire a company to dredge the inlets, perhaps in conjunction with the Florida Inlet Navigation District.
“You would have several governments (in the region) collaborating to get the same type of work done.” Donaldson said. “Collectively, they would procure equipment and services to complete dredging projects. Each group would contribute financially, and each would be guaranteed a certain amount of work that would be completed over several years.”