The City of Destin and Okaloosa County, through the Tourist Development Council, will fund an emergency dredge of the Old Pass Lagoon Channel adjacent to the Marler Bridge in East Pass.
The Destin City Council voted unanimously on March 18 to adopt a resolution declaring a state of emergency that will allow for permitting of the project. The Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners has agreed to fund the majority of the project using TDC funds in the amount of $180,000. County Commissioners voted unanimously on March 19 to move forward with the funding and to draft an interlocal agreement with the city. The city will contribute an additional $20,000 to the project and oversee the bidding and construction administration.
Winter storms and natural sand movement have caused significant shoaling in the channel, making access to Destin Harbor difficult and at times, impossible. The channel was last dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2010 as part of a routine maintenance dredge. Federal budget constraints have since eliminated maintenance dredging of non-deepwater ports, removing Destin from the project list.
The city’s plans to armor Norriego Point will provide a more permanent solution to opening the channel. This project is currently being permitted by federal and state agencies. City officials hope to secure funding through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Process, as well as the Restore Act.