A few weeks ago when we were among just a handful of people enjoying the beach at Boynton Inlet, a couple of pale visitors from Minnesota wandered by, camera in hand. After we’d established that I, born in St. Paul, had roots — a word my South Dakota father pronounced “ruhts” — in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the man looked down the beach, where a waterfall of sandy water was spewing from a long pipe.

That’s not sewage, is it?

Minnesotan tourist

Absolutely not, I answered. It’s part of sand dredging. I kept meaning to look that up, because I really wasn’t at all sure about my answer, other that feeling pretty offended by the presumption that Florida was throwing crap into these turquoise waters.

Boynton Inlet. Photo: Jane Kelly Amerson López

What a relief, then, to read an article in The Palm Beach Post that assured me that I’d been right. The pipe is part of a sand transfer plant installed in 1937 to restore the natural movement of sand down the beach interrupted by the man-made Boynton Inlet.

In 1937, the sand transfer plant at the South Lake Worth Inlet, also known as the Boynton Inlet, was built to take sand from the north side and feed it through a pipe that attached to the bridge over the boat channel to the beach on the south side.

Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post
The little house is the sand replenishment plant. It vacuums up sand from the north side of the inlet and pipes it out on the south side. Video: Jane Kelly Amerson López

It’s slurry.

My new word, thanks to Kimberly Miller at The Palm Beach Post

The beaches in the northern reaches of Palm Beach County — in Juno and Jupiter — have been undergoing their own sand project. The changes in the landscape made it feel foreign, almost lunar, when we visited in February.

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