Bad clams: Just-opened Clam Pass is filling up with sand again

Corey Perrine/Staff
Hayden Weir, 12, of Southampton, N.Y. climbs up the wall of the previously dredged pass Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at Clam Pass in Naples, Fla. The pass has only been opened for a week since St. Patrick's Day weekend and took a month to dredge. The $200,000 project was washed up in a week's time.

Photo by COREY PERRINE // Buy this photo

Corey Perrine/Staff Hayden Weir, 12, of Southampton, N.Y. climbs up the wall of the previously dredged pass Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at Clam Pass in Naples, Fla. The pass has only been opened for a week since St. Patrick's Day weekend and took a month to dredge. The $200,000 project was washed up in a week's time.

Video from NBC-2

— Clam Pass is filling up again and more dredging may take place.

The North Naples inlet to the Gulf had plugged up by Wednesday morning, disappointing regular beachgoers who kept tabs on a dredging project earlier this month that appeared nearly completed, until now.

Neil Dorrill, director of the Pelican Bay Services Division, said the engineering firm that designed the recent dredging is expected to have a report ready Friday about how much sand needs to be removed at the mouth of the inlet to reopen the pass.

In addition, the firm of Humiston & Moore will report if an extension of the dredging permit is needed, along with offering an extended weather forecast so County Manager Leo Ochs can make a decision about how to proceed, Dorrill said.

“We have asked the engineers to develop a separate work authorization as part of their existing contract,” Dorrill said. “There will be a change order.”

Because the two-week dredging project earlier this month was substantially completed but not yet certified, Dorrill said the contractors are entitled to a change order from the original contract. The original contract was for $200,000.

“The two recent cold weather events are outside the scope of their services,” he said. “We are asking them for an estimate of (sand) that needs to be removed.”

The first cold front that brought in sand occurred around March 19 but Dorrill said the real weather issue started Monday.

Staff with the engineering firm and with Kyle Construction, which performed the dredging, were on site Wednesday to assess the situation.

At Tuesday’s Collier County Commission meeting, Chairwoman Georgia Hiller told the board she had been in contact with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff members and they seemed receptive to giving the county another permit expeditiously if the pass closed.

The permit to Kyle for its heavy equipment on the beach has four days left before it expires, Dorrill said.

“If it needs to be extended, we will do that at the same time as the work authorization,” he said.

Collier commissioners have a 1 p.m. workshop Tuesday and Clam Pass has been added to the agenda.

The pass closed up in December, prompting concerns about the health of the estuary and for boaters and paddlers not being able to navigate from the pass to the Gulf.

Regular beachgoers, especially those familiar with the history of Clam Pass, were dismayed Wednesday the dredging project has gone adrift.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Terry Adkins, who walks the beach each morning. “I’ve been watching it. Yesterday at low tide, I straddled the pass (on foot).”

A week ago, Adkins said the pass was eight to 10 feet wide at low tide, but recent high winds out of the northwest created a washout on the north side of the pass and undercut all the sand, he said.

The recent dredging involved dump trucks carrying sand taken from the pass to nearby beaches to leave the pass 4 feet deep at low tide and 6 feet deep at high tide.

The original dredge cut at the mouth of the pass, where the pass meets the Gulf, was 45 feet wide at the bottom and 60 feet wide at the top. The goal is tidal circulation so the water can flow freely and keep the estuary healthy. Providing for boat navigation hasn’t been an end goal, engineers said earlier in the month.

The dredging was supposed to keep the pass open for two years.

Beachgoer Walter Reilly said Wednesday he was sad to see the pass fill in but he expressed some optimism.

“At dead high tide, it will probably come back in but it is not sufficient at all,” he said, referring to water flow from the Gulf into the pass. “I think they need a barge dredge to open this up. Nature is going to make its own cut.”

Pat Mullen, another beach visitor, said the dredging went well but something more permanent is needed.

“I’m amazed in that short amount of time (it filled in),” she said.

Beachgoer Bruce Helm, a seasonal visitor, said more water flows into the channel at high tide but he doesn’t think that will suffice.

“I think their two-year projection isn’t going to make it,” he said.

Posted earlier

Clam Pass is filling up again.

The North Naples inlet to the Gulf was filled in by this morning, disappointing regular beachgoers who have been keeping tabs on a dredging project earlier this month that appeared completed, until now.

An engineer with Humiston & Moore arrived on site mid-morning today but deferred comment about what will be done to reopen the pass to others at his firm and to Neil Dorrill, director of the Pelican Bay Services Division that secured the dredging permit.

As of mid-afternoon, none of them could be reached for comment.

At Tuesday's Collier County Commission meeting, Chairwoman Georgia Hiller told the board she already had been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the matter of the current dredging permit, which expires in four days, could be taken up as an emergency action at a workshop next week if necessary.

Regular beachgoers, especially those familiar with Clam Pass' history, were dismayed Wednesday the dredging project has gone adrift.

“It's very disappointing,” said Terry Adkins, who walks the beach early in the morning every day. “I've been watching it. Yesterday at low tide, I straddled the pass (on foot).”

A week ago, Adkins said the pass was eight to 10 feet wide at low tide, but recent high winds out of the northwest created a washout on the north side of the pass and undercut all the sand, he said.

The dredging project earlier this month involved dump trucks carrying sand out of the pass onto nearby beaches and there were plans to leave the pass 4 feet deep at low tide and 6 feet deep at high tide.

Some of the sand being moved was targeted to fix erosion at the meandering pass at Pelican Bay yet the bulk of the sand was being moved to Clam Pass Park on the south side.

The dredging project was supposed to be good for leaving the pass open for two years.

Beachgoer Walter Reilly said Wednesday it was sad to see the pass fill in but he expressed some optimism.

“At dead high tide, it will probably come back in but it is not sufficient at all,” he said, referring to water flow from the Gulf into the pass. “I think they need a barge dredge to open this up. Nature is going to make its own cut.”

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