BROOKSVILLE — Work has begun in earnest to get the Hernando Beach Channel dredging project moving, county officials said Friday, and the flurry of activity means the project is on pace to be done by the Dec. 31 deadline.
Crews have brought half of the 33,000 cubic yards of fill dirt needed to build up berms for settling ponds on the county's old sewer treatment plant site on Shoal Line Boulevard, according to community relations coordinator Brenda Frazier.
The work was started to save time while the county awaits state approval of the dewatering and disposal plan, which officials anticipate within two weeks.
The firm hired by the County Commission to take over care of replanted seagrass found that about 5 percent of the underwater vegetation had been damaged. The damage appeared just a week after a monitoring report found the seagrass bed "in excellent condition and thriving.''
It appeared that the grass was intentionally damaged by a boat propeller and reports were made to the Sheriffs Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Frazier said.
The county still could face action from the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to meet permit conditions to feed and care for the seagrass up until the March 29 appearance of the seagrass recovery company.
While the county has a seagrass protection ordinance, an expansion of that ordinance will be brought to the County Commission on April 12 to address seagrass within the channel.
Contractor BCPeabody has met with construction manager Greg Jarque and county staff to get the project going, and an operations headquarters been set up at the Waterways Maintenance office on Pinedale Court in Hernando Beach.
Officials continue to negotiate a change order for their engineering consultant, Halcrow.
County Transportation Services director Susan Goebel is forming a project advisory group, and two people have agreed to participate: David Milliman, a retired professional, for management; and Travis Wellman of Cemex Corp., for operations. Others have been contacted, and staff is awaiting confirmation.
According to the proposed timeline, dredging will begin the second week of May and continue through early December.
The county will post updates on the project each Friday.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.