The Battle of Upham Beach, Part 4: Suncoast Surfrider Foundation stands to get controversial T-groins removed from St. Pete's Upham Beach

Upham is a feeder beach. Erosion will always occur -- it is not being fed itself and it is hungry.

Never mind the condos being built beyond the mean-high water line, and the owners having to sign affidavits acknowledging the fact their residences were built where water should be because the jettys are in place. And no dedicated system or plan for a system exists to assist the natural North to South sand flow which every coastal geologist and coastal engineer knows to be true. Upham needs help with sand bypassing the jetties.

The science is known: You do not armor a feeder beach which is not being fed. The resulting infrastructure proposed for Upham will still require sand.

And because the activists were not given appropriate acknowledgment by the City of St. Pete Beach or Pinellas County, they obtained a scientific analysis of the USF Monitoring Reports as well as had it peer reviewed -- twice! At the current juncture, the Suncoast Chapter is leaving no stone unturned.

“The projects effect goes well beyond surfers being upset it ruined a surf break. We believe a case can be made as to how the project permit is currently in violation of state codes and statutes – thus, the groins should be removed,” said Scott Orsini, Suncoast’s Vice Chair. And the chapter wants no permanent rock structure.

The chapter’s concerns and opposition are based upon the report’s expectation the proposed project will:

* Destroy or Degrade Public Trust Resources

* Benefit a very small group of people

* Creates a nautical hazard

* Adversely impact hatchling success

* Diminish the natural beauty of beaches

* Danger to public safety due to exposed rocks

* Not a long-term solution to the real problem of coastal erosion

* Result in “Significant Adverse Impacts”

* Has Failed to meet Experimental Design Qualifications

Read more of Suncoast Chapter’s findings here at

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide.

By the time I reached writing about the fourth part in the Upham Beach "battle over the T-groins" series, I realized a few things. Any engineer, financial analyst or project manger would notice that project implementation numbers were missing from the financial analysis. Thus, financial claims of savings are misled. But more importantly, before proving whether or not the project will save money, the question to ask is: "Are the T-groins a sound investment?"

So let’s get to the point: While Pinellas County stands by the plans currently instated at Upham Beach, the Suncoast Chapter Surfrider Foundation charges forward on their mission to get the T-groins removed. "Big, wide, safe beach," rings as their motto.

Some people claim they have a beach (well, at least before the construction too place), and they did — at taxpayers expense. Compare the amount of sand deposited in the last 10 years versus the sand deposited there since 1975; the total amount allocated over the last decade with the T-groin structure is greater than the prior 25 years without!

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