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Sand coming to Bal Harbour

New sand from Orlando will replenish Bal Harbour’s shoreline
Help is on the way for the village’s shrinking shoreline.

Special to The Miami Herald
Bal Harbour’s shrinking beach has caught the eye of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took a tour of Bal Harbour’s beach last month, walking with residents who say they are concerned about the natural erosion that has eaten away at the shoreline.

Buffering the beach is essential, Ros-Lehtinen said.

And help is on the way: In May, more than 30 feet of sand will be trucked in from Orlando to add height and width to beaches in Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach.

”The sand is coming and it is something we need to do again and again,” she said. “It’s the only way you are going to protect these properties and these lives.”

Ros-Lehtinen said erosion also jeopardizes South Florida beaches’ draw as a major tourist attraction.

Natural erosion, along with several active hurricane seasons, has shrunk Bal Harbour’s beach to small dunes, leaving residents and tourists with little space to enjoy the ocean. During high tide, residents say the water becomes a danger.

”The water sometimes goes over the dunes,” said resident Brian Mulheren, a member of the Bal Harbour Citizen’s Coalition. “If we have a hurricane, the water goes up to the lines of the buildings.”

The coalition lobbied lawmakers, e-mailing and making phone calls to Ros-Lehtinen and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Ros-Lehtinen lauded the group for being “proactive.”

”They have been unified and that brings success,” she said.

The sand should help swimmers feel safer.

”The project will serve as a Band Aid until a large regular project will take place in 2011,” said Brian Flynn, a representative for the county’s Department of Environmental Resource Management. “This project will use an offshore sand source.”

Flynn, who has been working with Bal Harbour, said state and county funds will be used for the proposed truck haul re-nourishment project, which could last about three months.

Ros-Lehtinen adds that the project could cost about $10 million. She also said there are additional funds earmarked for beach renourishment, which could be used for the 2011 project.

”The Army Corps of Engineers has a certain amount of money geared toward beach renourishment, so someone is going to get it,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We are going to fight like heck to make sure we get it.”

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