Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State accepts dredge permit application for Hernando Beach Channel

BROOKSVILLE — There was finally some good news Wednesday on the long-awaited Hernando Beach Channel dredge project.

Officials got word that state environmental regulators have at last accepted Hernando County's permit application for the project. That starts the time clock on a series of events that officials hope will end with dredging beginning again in the coming months.

The long-awaited project to widen and deepen the channel has been stalled by the state since January. For months, county public works officials have been responding to regular requests for additional information from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The dredge project began late last year but it was soon discovered that the approved process to separate the water from the sediment in the water wasn't working and the contractor was pouring too much sediment into a nearby canal.

The state stopped work and Hernando officials went back to find another solution: using additional settling processes and a coagulating substance to help remove the sediment.

The new permit will require the county to dig a series of settling ponds, a construction project that won't start until the county already has the permit in hand, said Steve Whitaker, assistant public works director.

The new permit also allows some stockpiling of the dredged materials, known as spoils. The spoils will be removed from the ponds on the county's old wastewater treatment plant site on Shoal Line Boulevard, which is where all the treatment of the dredged materials will take place.

But with the new ponds, space is limited at that site and the state has agreed to allow the county to stockpile more of that material at the Sun West Mine property in Pasco County. The mine is allowing the county to use their site at no charge.

Once the DEP puts out a public notice that it will issue the dredge permit, anyone protesting the permit can seek an administrative hearing to challenge it. But Whitaker said officials are hopeful that through the long process of answering DEP's questions, everyone should be satisfied and all concerns should have been addressed.

The DEP has 90 days after concluding that the application is complete to issue the permit. After that will be a 21-day period in which contractor Orion Dredging will move equipment back to the dredge site.

Last month, Orion asked the county to be able to move its idled equipment to other projects while the DEP permit process was ongoing.

County staff worked through various community meetings to be sure that Hernando Beach residents were aware of the reasons why Orion was moving the dredge equipment, said Commissioner Rose Rocco. "I think the residents are comfortable with what has been happening'' because of that, she said.

As for the news that soon the work might begin again on a project that has been on the books for more than a dozen years, Rocco responded by saying, "Hooray!''

Interim public works director Susan Goebel also expressed happiness at the news and hope that DEP would expedite the issuance of the permit.

With so many delays, the state funding for the project had been set to run out but was then extended through June 30, 2011.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

State accepts dredge permit application for Hernando Beach Channel 07/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 5:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Warehouse burns on Tampa's east side


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County emergency crews are at the scene of a two-alarm fire at a warehouse near 56th Street and East Hillsborough Avenue.

    Hillsborough County firefighters battle a blaze Thursday night at a warehouse on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  2. 'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

    Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher (89) on the ice during Lightning training camp in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17).
  3. Irma roughs up endangered snail kites, birds that help us gauge the Everglades' health


    Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.

    Hurricane Irma destroyed 44 snail kite nests, capping off a poor mating season for the endangered species, which is seen as an important barometer of the health of the Florida Everglades. Their off-center beaks allow them to probe inside the spiral shells of the native apple snails. But the snails' population has dropped as the Everglades has changed. [MAC STONE | Audubon of Florida]
  4. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs


    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  5. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort


    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times