Where Sand Is Gold, the Reserves Are Running Dry

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — With inviting beaches that run for miles along South Florida’s shores, it is easy to put sand into the same category as turbo air-conditioning and a decent mojito — something ever present and easily taken for granted.

As it turns out, though, sand is not forever. Constant erosion from storms and tides and a rising sea level continue to swallow up chunks of beach along Florida’s Atlantic coastline. Communities have spent the last few decades replenishing their beaches with dredged-up sand.

In a state where the lure of pristine beaches is pivotal to a robust economy, hoarding sand is not unlike stocking the basement with toilet paper, water and peanut butter. One never knows when the next storm could sweep away a beach and wreak havoc on beach communities.

The reason for all this agitation is straightforward: Miami-Dade County is officially out of offshore sand, which is environmentally sound and easily accessible. The last piles will be depleted in February, when sand replenishment is completed on the beach of the affluent village of Bal Harbour. Broward County is not much better off; its offshore sand is nearly depleted. And Palm Beach County’s stocks are dwindling rapidly.

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