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Three options for Blind Pass Inlet proposed

By Staff | Apr 27, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI Michelle Pfeiffer, a coastal engineer with consulting team APTIM, explains the three combined alternatives presented on April 27 during the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study update.

At its third and final public meeting on the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study, the Lee County Division of Natural Resources presented its top alternative strategies for managing the inlet.

On April 27 at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva, county staff and consulting team APTIM provided an update on the study, which aims to balance the sediment of the inlet and adjacent beaches and extend the life of related beach projects, so periodic nourishment in the area is more effective.

“It’s a process that’s taken us longer than we thought going in,” Steve Boutelle, operations manager with Marine Services for the Division of Natural Resources, said. “We wanted to do this right.”

At the second meeting, held in March 2017, the group provided the results of 18 to 20 models and hundreds of model runs that gave preliminary evaluations of the different management alternatives for the inlet. They ranged from dredging and sand placement, to sediment basins, beach fill and more.

Afterward, the public had an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

TIFFANY REPECKI Steve Boutelle, operations manager with Marine Services for the Lee County Division of Natural Resources, answers questions at the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study update on April 27.

“The input we got from you all was excellent,” Thomas Pierro, director of operations for APTIM, said at today’s meeting.

He explained that the group went back through the series of alternatives – as compared to a no action scenario – and narrowed down the list of strategies based on which ones provided the most benefit.

“We came down to three combined alternatives,” Pierro said.

Michelle Pfeiffer, a coastal engineer with APTIM, explained that the management strategies each require a different mix of design features. The features that were kept in for consideration included:

– Truncated dredge template east and west of the bridge and into the Gulf of Mexico.

TIFFANY REPECKI Michelle Pfeiffer, a coastal engineer with consulting team APTIM, discusses one design feature included in one alternative presented on April 27 at the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study update.

“By maintaining that bar feature out there, it creates a pathway for that sand to move down,” she said.

– Connection to Pine Island Sound and Wulfert Channel, increasing the inlet channel stability.

“Better tidal flushing,” Pfeiffer said. “So more flow is going in between those two large bodies of water.”

– Connection to Pine Island Sound with Sunset Bay.

– Sanibel beach fill, which benefits the north end of Sanibel.

Thomas Pierro

“Taking that sand out of the channel and putting it back on the beach where it belongs,” she said.

– Permitted template or spur at the Blind Pass jetty, which keeps sediment flowing down.

“Instead of flowing into the inlet and depositing material into the inlet, it’s passing by,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s changing the direction of the flow.”

Alternative No. 1 would involve the truncated dredge template, Pine Island Sound-Wulfert Channel connection and Sanibel beach fill. Alternative No. 2 would consist of the same, plus Sunset Bay.

“This is kind of replicating that condition that used to exist,” she said of the second strategy.

Steve Boutelle

Alternative No. 3 would include all of the above, plus the spur at the Blind Pass jetty.

“The main takeaway is similar in all three,” Pfeiffer said.

The group also compared the alternatives’ potential impact to multiple locations, including the channel, south end of Captiva, interior shoreline northeast of the bridge and along the northern end of Sanibel.

Following the presentation, county staffers and APTIM were available to speak to the public individually in a town hall-style format. Asked for his opinion by one attendee, Pierro voiced support for Alternative Nov. 2 but noted it is the most costly option and entails additional permitting.

A draft report is anticipated by the end of May, with a final report to be presented to elected officials and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in early summer for direction on adoption and implementation. Boutelle pointed out that the objective is the adoption of an inlet management plan.

For more information about the Blind Pass Inlet Management Study, visit www.leegov.com/naturalresources/blind-pass-2016-inlet-management-plan-study.