South Lake Worth Lagoon (Boynton Inlet)

Current Status of the Project

A committee comprised of representatives from the County, City of Boynton Beach, Town of Lantana, Town of Manalapan, Town of Ocean Ridge, Briny Breezes, Hypoluxo, and local citizens was formed three years ago to evaluate Inlet modifications with the goal of improving public safety and enhancing the economic development of the marine industry. The services of Applied Technologies Management (ATM) were retained to complete the analysis and suggest alternatives to include a ranking of the appropriate improvements.

In December 2008 the Committee ranked their top four alternatives and later submitted the report with their recommendation of "Status Quo" to Boynton Beach.

The top four alternatives in order of their vote were:
1 - Status Quo (leave the Inlet as it is today)
2 - Shift in South Jetty
3 - Maintenance Dredging of Ebb Shoal
4 - Inlet Widening 50' with or without Deepening

Click here to see the Committee ranking results.

Click here to review the summary of the alternatives from the Feasibility Summary Report.

On June 2, 2009 Boynton Beach commission voted to forward the Boynton Inlet Committee recommendation report to the County, the owner and operator of the Inlet. It is now up to the County to determine the next course of action. Stay tuned!

History of the Project

The South Lake Worth Inlet (also commonly referred to as the Boynton Inlet) is 130 feet wide by 6-12 feet deep. It was created in 1917 to improve tidal circulation and provide flushing of the South Lake Worth Lagoon which is 21 miles long and up to a mile wide. Although the inlet was never designed to be a navigable channel, it has been used by boaters since the beginning. Shoaling, strong currents that can exceed 5 knots on a strong ebb tide and a bridge with 18' of clearance make this a difficult inlet to navigate, especially for those unfamiliar with the inlet.

A study to assess the current safety and water quality conditions in the area and offer possible improvements was initiated by the city of Boynton Beach in 2007. Click here to read the Palm Beach Post article on the study. One of the possible improvements suggested was the widening the inlet. The presumed benefits of a wider channel would be better water quality for the Lake Worth Lagoon, which the channel flushes, and improved boater safety. As a point of reference, in 2006, there were 46,242 boat trips in the inlet and seven boat rescues = .015% accidents.

The $160,000 study was completed by Applied Technology Management (ATM), a West Palm Beach environmental and coastal engineer group. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will reimburse the city for the study. Click here to review the summary of alternatives from the Feasibility Summary Report.

Four alternative "improvements" were considered, from minimally deepening the inlet by 15 feet at a cost of $2.1 million to widening it by 200 feet at a cost of $21.7 million. It is presumed that a new draw bridge would be required if the last alternative is considered, which is not included in the projected cost. It is further presumed that the county park would be dramatically reduced or cease to exist under this scenario.

The major issues under consideration are: reef damage, increased beach erosion, potential increased insurance rates of the surrounding property owners due to storm surge, destruction of a valuable park for beachgoers/picnickers and fishermen alike. Perhaps most concerning is the potential increased storm surge which could be catastrophic to surrounding neighborhoods and homes. Click here to read the Palm Beach Post article on storm surge.

An Advisory Council was appointed by the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners - the Council includes representatives from Manalapan, Ocean Ridge, Boynton Beach and the County. The Council has been charged with reviewing the final report from ATM and making a recommendation on the improvements that may need to be done to the county commission.