Water Quality, Public Access Are Top Concerns for Coral Bay at Marine Uses Plan Meeting


Ensuring adequate, safe and clean public access to Coral Bay harbor and learning more about the water quality of the bay were among the top concerns discussed at a Coral Bay Community Council meeting in mid-December.

CBCC officials are focusing on developing a Marine Uses Plan as part of an updated Watershed Management Plan for the area. The meeting, hosted on December 11 at Guy Benjamin School, drew on 20 people who shared their ideas about how Coral Bay harbor should be used.

The crowd included developers, representatives of government agencies, Coral By residents and Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, who also lives in the area, explained CBCC President Sharon Coldren.

“The meeting drew about 20 people ranging from the individuals who are leading the possible development of a marina on the west shore of the bay to representatives of government agencies and a number of residents, including boaters,” said Coldren. “It was a very positive group and we started a laundry list of issues related to uses of the bay.”

Everything from fishing and boating to sewage problems on land and on boats, was discussed, according to Coldren.

One area of concern talked about was long-term plans for marinas in the area, explained Coldren.

“We acknowledged future marina plans as a long-term issue,” she said. “ No permits have been issued and the permitting process is a minimum of a five to 10 year process. And that’s assuming it’s allowed.”

“There are substantial environmental reasons that make it unlikely particularly because of the amount of seagrass in the bay and the sensitive environmental nature of it,” said Coldren.

Short-term issues discussed at the meeting included access, water quality and moorings, Coldren added.

“There were concerns about public access to the water including docks, a boat ramp and parking,” said the CBCC president. “How do we be sure we have this public access and how is that access maintained so that it is neat, clean and safe, was something that people wanted to work on.”

Residents at the December 11 meeting also expressed concern about the quality of water in Coral Bay, according to Coldren.

“There were concerns about sewage in the bay from leaking septic tanks on shore and boats in the water,” she said. “There can be seepage from sewage high on the mountain. What is the impact of that on the bay.”

“What is the impact of human uses along the shoreline, high on the hills and on boats,” Coldren said. “They probably all have impacts of one kind or another.”

Residents want to see more water quality testing done in Coral Bay harbor, Coldren added.

“The need for detailed studies of the harbor was brought up by the audience,” she said.

The subject of planning and managing mooring and anchoring areas was also discussed, according to Coldren.

“Having appropriate visitor anchoring areas and how to manage the anchoring and mooring areas was talked about,” she said.

Through the Marine Use Plan project —which will span at least the next several months — CBCC is hoping to create actionable plans, explained Coldren.

“What we want to have is actionable plans in areas that allow us as a community to continue to improve and refine each of these areas,” said the CBCC president. “We’re talking about better community services and better community knowledge. We’re talking about having a better Coral Bay, protecting our environment better and increasing our enjoyment of the bay.”

The next CBCC Marine Uses Plan meeting is set for January 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Guy Benjamin School, room six.

“The meeting is open to all,” said Coldren. “This is a team effort and everyone is welcome to be a part of the planning team to do this. Just show up and be productive.”

For more information about the Marine Uses Plan, call the CBCC office at 776-2099.