161.143 Inlet management; planning, prioritizing, funding, approving, and implementing projects.—
(1) Studies, projects, and activities for the purpose of mitigating the erosive effects of inlets and balancing the sediment budget of the inlet and adjacent beaches must be supported by separately approved inlet management plans or inlet components of the statewide comprehensive beach management plan. Such plans in support of individual inlet projects or activities must, pursuant to s. 161.161(1)(b), evaluate each inlet to determine the extent of the inlet’s erosive effect on adjacent beaches and, if significant, make recommendations to mitigate such ongoing erosive effects and provide estimated costs for such mitigation.
(2) The department shall establish annual funding priorities for studies, activities, or other projects concerning inlet management. Such inlet management projects include, but are not limited to, inlet sand bypassing, modifications to channel dredging, jetty redesign, jetty repair, disposal of spoil material, and the development, revision, adoption, or implementation of an inlet management plan. The funding priorities established by the department must be consistent with the requirements and legislative declaration in ss. 161.101(14), 161.142, and 161.161(1)(b). In establishing funding priorities under this subsection and before transmitting the annual inlet project list to the Legislature under subsection (5), the department shall seek formal input from local coastal governments, beach and general government associations and other coastal interest groups, and university experts concerning annual funding priorities for inlet management projects. In order to maximize the benefits of efforts to address the inlet-caused beach erosion problems of this state, the ranking criteria used by the department to establish funding priorities for studies, activities, or other projects concerning inlet management must include consideration of:
(a) An estimate of the annual quantity of beach-quality sand reaching the updrift boundary of the improved jetty or inlet channel.
(b) The severity of the erosion to the adjacent beaches caused by the inlet and the extent to which the proposed project mitigates the erosive effects of the inlet.
(c) The overall significance and anticipated success of the proposed project in balancing the sediment budget of the inlet and adjacent beaches and addressing the sand deficit along the inlet-affected shorelines.
(d) The extent to which existing bypassing activities at an inlet would benefit from modest, cost-effective improvements when considering the volumetric increases from the proposed project, the availability of beach-quality sand currently not being bypassed to adjacent eroding beaches, and the ease with which such beach-quality sand may be obtained.
(e) The interest and commitment of local governments as demonstrated by their willingness to coordinate the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of an inlet management project and their financial plan for funding the local cost-share for initial construction, ongoing sand bypassing, channel dredging, and maintenance.
(f) The previous completion or approval of a state-sponsored inlet management plan or local-government-sponsored inlet study concerning the inlet addressed by the proposed project, the ease of updating and revising any such plan or study, and the adequacy and specificity of the plan’s or study’s recommendations concerning the mitigation of an inlet’s erosive effects on adjacent beaches.
(g) The degree to which the proposed project will enhance the performance and longevity of proximate beach nourishment projects, thereby reducing the frequency of such periodic nourishment projects.
(h) The project-ranking criteria in s. 161.101(14) to the extent such criteria are applicable to inlet management studies, projects, and activities.
(3) The department may, pursuant to s. 161.101 and notwithstanding s. 161.101(15), pay from legislative appropriations provided for these purposes 75 percent of the total costs, or, if applicable, the nonfederal costs, of a study, activity, or other project concerning the management of an inlet. The balance must be paid by the local governments or special districts having jurisdiction over the property where the inlet is located.
(4) Using the legislative appropriation to the statewide beach-management-support category of the department’s fixed capital outlay funding request, the department may employ university-based or other contractual sources and pay 100 percent of the costs of studies that are consistent with the legislative declaration in s. 161.142 and that:
(a) Determine, calculate, refine, and achieve general consensus regarding net annual sediment transport volumes to be used for the purpose of planning and prioritizing inlet management projects; and
(b) Appropriate, assign, and apportion responsibilities between inlet beneficiaries for the erosion caused by a particular inlet on adjacent beaches.
(5) The department shall annually provide an inlet management project list, in priority order, to the Legislature as part of the department’s budget request. The list must include studies, projects, or other activities that address the management of at least 10 separate inlets and that are ranked according to the criteria established under subsection (2).
(a) The department shall make available at least 10 percent of the total amount that the Legislature appropriates in each fiscal year for statewide beach management for the three highest-ranked projects on the current year’s inlet management project list.
(b) The department shall make available at least 50 percent of the funds appropriated for the feasibility and design category in the department’s fixed capital outlay funding request for projects on the current year’s inlet management project list which involve the study for, or design or development of, an inlet management project.
(c) The department shall make available all statewide beach management funds that remain unencumbered or are allocated to non-project-specific activities for projects on legislatively approved inlet management project lists. Funding for local-government-specific projects on annual project lists approved by the Legislature must remain available for such purposes for a period of 18 months pursuant to s. 216.301(2)(a). Based on an assessment and the department’s determination that a project will not be ready to proceed during this 18-month period, such funds shall be used for inlet management projects on legislatively approved lists.
(d) The Legislature shall designate one of the three highest projects on the inlet management project list in any year as the Inlet of the Year. The department shall annually report to the Legislature concerning the extent to which each inlet project designated by the Legislature as Inlet of the Year has succeeded in balancing the sediment budget of the inlet and adjacent beaches, mitigating the inlet’s erosive effects on adjacent beaches, and transferring or otherwise placing beach-quality sand on adjacent eroding beaches.
(6) The department shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer this section.