The Riviera Beach city council voted unanimously Wednesday night to contribute up to $7 million toward an ocean breakwater designed to reduce beach erosion on Singer Island. The city will pass a bond issue to pay for their portion of the $30 million project.
The city’s contribution to the breakwater is expected to be $6 million – 20 percent of the $30 million estimated total cost. If construction costs exceed the estimate, the city could be asked to contribute up to $1 million more with council approval. The agreement calls for Palm Beach County to contribute $12.5 million. Another $11.5 million will come from the state.
As designed, the breakwater will run parallel to the beach for a mile, from the south end of John D. MacArthur Beach State Park to Ocean Reef Park. It will consist of 11 wave-breaking structures made of limestone and granite that rise 1 to 3 feet above the surface in about 12 feet of water. Gaps will allow swimmers, sea turtles and water to move through.
Although the breakwater is not expected to stop all beach erosion, it should slow erosion enough that only sand from upland sources will be needed to maintain beaches behind the breakwater, said Daniel Bates, the county’s environmental director. “We’d be saving a lot of offshore dredging work,” he said. Beach restoration projects that involve pumping sand from offshore typically cost around $8 million and must be done every seven years or so, Bates said.
The project is expected to create 6 acres of hard-bottom habitat along the ocean floor.
If the county approves the project and permits are secured as expected, breakwater construction would begin this summer, Bates said. Similar breakwaters are being considered for the waters south of Jupiter Inlet and off Lantana Beach.