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Martin County Engineering > Coastal Engineering > St. Lucie Inlet

2013-2014 Maintenance Dredging Project Update

Designed and maintained as a federal inlet by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the St. Lucie Inlet is an important conduit between the inland Intracoastal and Okeechobee Waterways and the Atlantic Ocean.  The Inlet’s impoundment basin was designed to accommodate a 3 to 4 year maintenance dredging interval and has performed well safeguarding navigation; however an active storm season in 2012 accelerated filling of the impoundment basin.  The impoundment basin was dredged in 2012; estimates indicate the impoundment basin has exceeded 50% capacity due to the passage of TS Isaac, Hurricane Sandy and severe nor’easters later that year. (For the August Survey Click Here) The upcoming project is well timed to maintain safe navigation through the inlet. Environmental restrictions limit these maintenance activities to a November 1st– April 30th, construction window. Although additional sea turtle protection measures are required after March 1st. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers has awarded the St. Lucie Inlet Maintenance dredging contract to Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting. The contract amount is $6,465,600.00 for the removal of 200,000 cubic yards of material from the St. Lucie Inlet by February 20, 2014.  The County issued a contract to Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting on February 25th, 2014 in the amount of $4,489,500.00 to dredge an additional 150,000 cubic yards of material.

Project Status:

  • The dredging project was completed on April 17, 2014
  • 383,991 cubic yard of material was dredged from the inlet
  • 8,100 feet of beach was renourished during this project

To where the beach was renourished during this project please CLICK HERE.

For a survey of the inlet after the completed dredging project please Click Here.

About the St. Lucie Inlet

The St. Lucie Inlet is a manmade federal inlet that is Martin County’s only point of access to the Atlantic Ocean—it separates the barrier islands of Hutchinson Island to the north and Jupiter Island to the south. The inlet connects the Atlantic Ocean to several waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie River, the Hobe Sound Narrows and the Intracoastal Waterway. These waterways are used extensively by both recreational and commercial vessels and have shaped our communities and lifestyles over many generations in Martin County. The Inlet is important to our community because it provides critical access between inland waterways, centers of commerce and private and commercial docks and the Atlantic Ocean. Learn more about the history of the St. Lucie Inlet >> 

Need for Dredging

The natural flow of water moving from north to south causes shoaling (sand build up) to occur within the St. Lucie Inlet.   When left unmanaged, shoaling in the Inlet creates serious navigational obstructions and limits the use of the inlet as Martin County’s only outlet to the ocean. The impoundment basin (the area where drifting sand is captured to help keep the channel open) has been filled to capacity for some time.  Shoaling extends across the inlet’s mouth and will only continue to worsen until the inlet is dredged. Due to this shoaling, the St. Lucie Inlet is at a point where it could soon be declared non-navigable.  This would have a tremendous, negative impact on Martin County and our quality of life in many ways. Inlet maintenance is critical for safety, economic, recreational, tourism and environmental reasons. Learn more about the reasons why inlet maintenance is critical >>

Funding for Dredging

Cost-effective and appropriate maintenance dredging (of the channel and the impoundment basin) is needed to keep the inlet open and safe. Although this is a federal inlet, safety concerns forced the County to move forward with the current maintenance project.  The State of Florida is cost sharing with Martin County on this project.  The County will continue to seek federal funds and the assistance of the US Army Corps of Engineers on future maintenance projects. 

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