If you dredge it, officials say, the megayachts will come; Deepening of Intracoastal Waterway begins (Thursday, May 5, 2016)

If you dredge it, officials say, the megayachts will come; Deepening of Intracoastal Waterway begins (Tap on blue twice for news article)

William G. Crawford, Jr., editor

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.–On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) began a two-year dredging project to deepen the Intracoastal Waterway to a minimum of 10 to 12 feet from the 17th Street Causeway Bridge north to the Sunrise Bridge to attract the burgeoning mega yacht business.

From 1912 to 1929, the Intracoastal Waterway was a privately owned waterway initially owned by St. Augustine investors that  collected tolls from boats crossing six chains at different points from Jacksonville, Fla. to Miami, Fla.  In 1881, the Florida Coast Line Canal & Transportation Company agreed to dredge the waterway for a grant of  3,840 acres of Florida owned land for every mile of waterway dredged to a depth of five feet and a width of fifty feet and the right to collect tolls. 

By 1912, the private enterprise comprised mostly of New England investors received over one million acres of public land along Florida’s Atlantic coast for dredging 268 miles of  waterway according to state specifications. Although more than 80% of the waterway’s length had already consisted of water courses, lagoons, estuaries, and sounds, commercially viable vessels like steamboats could not navigate these waters without some dredging.  In Fort Lauderdale, waterways generally were three to four feet deep and tidally influenced.  

Work in Fort Lauderdale to dredge a course through the New River Sound to create a depth of five feet deep and fifty feet wide occurred between 1893 and 1896.   In the early 1920’s, about a mile west of today’s downtown on the South Fork of the New River, boaters throughout the country regarded the Pilkington Yacht Basin as  the largest covered yacht basin Florida. This basin accommodated almost exclusively flat-bottomed boats and houseboats. In sum, while the city had been known as the ‘Gateway to the Everglades’, most of its waters were non-navigable without dredging.  In 1929, the Federal government assumed control of the waterway. The State of Florida retained ownership of the bottom lands as they existed on the date of statehood, March 3, 1845.  Tolls would no longer be collected on the Florida East Coast Canal upon assumption of control by the Federal government.

Tap twice on the blue sentence at the top of this page.

Vanishing point — disappearing north Florida waters

So far, most of my drought postings have focused on the unprecedented Southern California five-year drought.  Relieved somewhat by the Santa Anna winds bringing some rain, the State of California remains under siege.  Calif. Governor Jerry Brown’s  mandatory resrictions  on water usage remain in place.

My review of the U.S. Drought Monitor on the East Coast has revealed only a few areas of drought over the Florida peninsula for limited periods of time.  These areas of drought have been for the most part. in the southeast Florida area. But little has been written about north Florida.

At the mouth of the Apalachicola River, south of the state capital (Tallahassee). and the source of the Apalachicola Bay or, if you wish, Apalachicola Basin,  a water war between Florida and Georgia has been waged for decades. So contentious the war become,  Florida has filed in the U. S. Supreme Court a lawsuit against Georgia for an equitable apportionment of the waters of the Apalachicola River between Georgia and Florida.

I wrote in a post some months ago a few generalities about the procedure for making the judicial apportionment of the waters.   Most of the river runs through the State of Georgia.  Florida argues that unless there is a reasonable apportionment of the water, the Apalachicola River Basin will lack the necessary river nutrients for the growth of shrimp and other seafood.  An entire industry will die off while Georgia continues to retain and impound water upstream for Georgia’s future needs that Florida regards as bogus and unsupportable by the facts.

Notwithstanding the ‘water wars’ in Florida’s panhandle, north Floridians have been noticing the drying up of north Florida lakes for at least two decades.  What is the source of the drying up?  Is it the slow but noticeable drop in the lakes through sinkholes, leaving residents to do battle in the summer with mosquitos thriving in the marshes where the larger lake once thrived? Is it the drying up of the underground Florida aquifer from fertilizing agriculture leading to out-of-control vegetation deadly to the ecosystem similar to one of the problems plaguing the Everglades?  Whatever the source touch this link for one author’s ‘call to action’.

Vanishing point — disappearing north Florida waters

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture declares a State of Emergency over Oriental Fruit Fly infestation September 15, 2015

Adam Putnam has declared a State of Emergency as a result of state officials finding an infestation of Oriental Fruit Fly in the Redlands in south Miami-Dade County.

A quarantine extends over 87 square miles prohibiting export of fruit and vegetables from the quarantined area.   The area supplies much of the nation’s winter vegetables.

State officials have already destroyed 80 tons of fruits and vegetables grown in south Miami-Dade County.

A copy of the State’s proclamation appears verbatim in a post below.


2015:Chief of Army Corps of Engineers Approves Port Everglades, Fla. Expansion (The Details)

Approved tentative plan for the widening and deepening of port channels and turning basin.
Approved tentative plan for the widening and deepening of port channels and turning basin

The legend shows the details of the plan, which you should study carefully.  Although none of the expansion will be paid for by imposing increased property taxes on Broward County property owners, one should take heed of the amount of mangrove land to be eliminated to accommodate Port expansion in the light blue rectangle to the west (left). Under federal law, the Port must acquire an equivalent amount of mangrove lands  to mitigate the destruction of environmentally sensitive lands.

Under the plan, the Outer Entrance Channel will be lengthened and widened.  The box in purple called the Widener will increase the size of the turning basin for longer ships required worldwide by the Panama Canal expansion for some of the longest, widest, and heaviest cargo vessels in the World.the forest green box indicating the Inner Entrance Channels will be widened and deepened for traffic flowing to and  from the south for loading or offloading.

The last two boxes in light green are increase space for Notches for Turning and Berthing or just Turning.  The remainder of the colored boxes and lines are as described.  Study them carefully. The Plan represents a the Port’s future, a major enterprise operated by Broward County, Florida.

Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook aboard his sloop “Klyo,” in the New River Sound, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The sloop

On the sloop “Klyo,” in the New River Sound, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were President-elect Warren Harding (in white pants and white shoes, standing in the middle with cap doffed in right hand) and owner, Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook (short-statured, standing in the middle of two taller men in the stern with flat captain’s hat (1922)).  Courtesy, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Historical Society. The event, or “stunt”, attracted coverage from newspapers across the country, inciting action for a second renaissance in inland waterways construction and improvements.  More than thirty citizen groups coalesced to lobby for waterways throughout the country.


Federal law requires the Secretary of Army to inspect the Intracoastal

Federal law requires the Secretary of the Army to make a physical inspection of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway at least annually and report his or her findings to Congress.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

The author has attended at least six inspections of the Florida portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  One of the more esoteric briefings was the replacement of mangrove shoots in the fast-moving current of the Jupiter Inlet at Jupiter, Florida, in Palm Beach County.  Engineers had devised a method of inserting hundreds of young mangrove shoots encased in PVC piping in the Inlet.  Several years later, we observed that these shoots had taken hold in the inlet and that they appeared to be thriving.

Other briefings have included plans on restoring the original flows of the Everglades south to the tip of the Florida peninsula, as well as the installation of recreational areas, including a natural aquatic pool for the observation of marine life on Peanut Island at Lake Worth (Palm Beach) Inlet in the Waterway and cleanup of the bottom land of the Miami River utilizing performance specifications requiring the bidder to provide both the price and the method to be used in cleanup.