TREASURE ISLAND — Just one year after a massive beach renourishment, the shoreline along at least a quarter of Sunset Beach is sharply eroding.
City officials recently received permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to borrow an estimated 70,000 cubic yards of sand from the city's wide central beach area to rebuild the Sunset Beach shoreline.
The area most affected, according to Jim Murphy, the city's director of public works, extends south from Caddy's on the Beach bar and restaurant to about 77th Avenue.
Caddy's owner Tony Amico says part of the eroded area is a virtual "cliff" that drops about 6 feet.
Murphy could not confirm that description, but did say the beach is severely eroding, a process that accelerated about a month ago.
That was when city workers noticed that a jetty near the Sunset Beach Pavilion was starting to be exposed.
After last year's renourishment, much of Sunset Beach approached 150 feet in width. In many places, it is now less than 100 feet wide, according to Murphy.
Although the city has not been hit by any hurricanes in the past year, Murphy said there have been several major storms bringing a lot of rain and high surf.
"The theory is the missing sand may be sitting just offshore. Several residents report that the gulf waters appear to be much shallower than in the past," Murphy said.
He said the sand might naturally return to Sunset Beach, but is not willing to wait for that to occur.
The sand project will happen sometime in the spring, according to Murphy. In the meantime, the city plans to resurvey the beach profile on Sunset Beach and report those findings to the DEP for a final go-ahead.
The central beach area where the sand will come from is nearly 700 feet wide, he said.
Most of the sand will be taken from an area near the Treasure Island Causeway, close to the shoreline just south of the St. Petersburg Municipal Beach.
"Our goal is to restore Sunset Beach to an acceptable profile," Murphy said.