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Coastal engineering firm to conduct study of the issues impacting St. Johns County

After years of storm waves breaking through the beach into the Summer Haven River, St. Johns County hired a coastal engineering firm to study the area.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — After years of storm waves breaking through the beach, causing water and sand to flow into the Summer Haven River, St. Johns County has hired a coastal engineering firm to conduct a study to tackle the damage impacting the Summer Haven area.  

Environmental Consulting Firm, INTERA, based out of Texas, will take on the job of developing environmentally and financially friendly solutions to keep the Summer Haven River flowing and to address beach erosion. 

University of North Florida Coastal Engineering Professor Raf Crowley says when conducting this type of study, INTERA will gather information and inspect the current shape of the Summer Haven area.  

“You’re looking at the wave climate,” UNF Coastal Engineering Professor Raf Crowley said. "You're looking at that in the context of sea level rise, and you're looking at both of those variables in the context of sediment deficit. What we're looking at is the amount of sediment flowing away from the beach versus the amount of sediment approaching the beach."

St. Johns County is paying INTERA more than $361,000 to conduct the seven-month study, according to the contract between the county and INTERA. 

At the end of the study, INTERA is expected to come up with potential solutions to stabilize the Summer Haven shoreline and river flow, which Crowley says can include many different options. 

“A larger scale version would be a seawall or would we put in some sort of armoring along the beach?” Crowley asked. "Are we putting in something to strengthen the berm and the dunes? Like a Geotube system? It would depend upon the results of the erosion study, what the appropriate thing to do is, the other alternative is we could choose to do nothing."

Crowley says until a solution is presented, nearby residents should be prepared for future storms.  

“I would tell residents along the coast to be prepared to, and know your evacuation routes. If you're told to evacuate, you should probably listen,” Crowley said. 

According to the contract, public meetings are also planned to include the community members in the process. 

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