We’ve all seen seawalls: concrete barriers that border bodies of water in the Tampa Bay area. But with rising sea levels and expensive upkeep, their sustainability measures fall flat. Seawalls erode and cement pieces fall into the water, putting aquatic wildlife at risk and in danger.
A Treasure Island seawall inspection in 2020 showed that Treasure Bay Resort and Marina needed the most attention, according to the city’s website. The estimated repairs for the seawall totaled $1.8 million, the website also says, adding that the City opted to build a living shoreline instead. The living shoreline will protect the environment and minimize maintenance, the city says.
Living shorelines consist of naturally occurring species like marsh grass, oyster reefs, and/or mangroves which filter contaminants, foster healthy aquatic life, provide shock resistance for waves, storm surges, and flooding. Assistant Public Works Director & Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Treasure Island, Stacy Boyles said living shorelines are “more aesthetically pleasing, cost less to construct and maintain, and are better for the environment.”
According to Boyles, the City applied in October 2020 for a $75,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and received the full amount, but the project called for additional funds, so the City split the application and applied for two separate grants. Recently, the FDEP allocated $1.495 million for the project, and the City received an additional $200,000 donation from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
The project is currently in the permit process with FDEP and Pinellas County.
Boyles told The Gabber the living shoreline will contribute to “resiliency for the site, better wave energy attenuation, [look] more attractive, [have] better upland and aquatic habitat, [and] improved water quality.”
More information on Treasure Island’s living shoreline.