Kelly Slater’s Florida Wave Pool Project Facing Backlash

Seems like not everyone in Florida is stoked about getting a wave pool courtesy of hometown hero, Kelly Slater. At the moment, there are plans for a pool to be developed by Kelly Slater Wave Co. in Palm Beach. However, many are fearing that the same problems that are plaguing the NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas could happen to them.

NLand opened last October, promising “long, consistent and barreling waves for novices, passionate travel surfers, and world-class competitors alike.” All while upholding a “commitment to environmental stewardship” that began “long before shovels hit the ground,” according to the NLand website.

However, a week into the operation, NLand found damage under its lagoon. And when it was drained to make repairs, water flowed into nearby residential properties.

Now, residents of Palm Beach and surrounding areas are worried about similar leaks potentially happening to them. Particularly as a replay of these failures would threaten their water supply from the nearby Pine Glades Natural Area. 

“I urge you to nip this in the bud and deny the zoning changes rather than using valuable staff time on this,” resident Chris Lockhart wrote in a letter to county commissioners. “If you do not, I ask that you direct staff to consider the impacts to Pine Glades Natural Area and other adjacent and nearby conservation lands, impacts on our water sources, etc..”

“Pine Glades is a water catchment area, which helps regenerate our aquifer and wells,” wrote resident Steve Stout in a similar letter. “Plus, the human impact of lights and noise — right next to this pristine and costly natural area. This is not a smart decision.”

Currently, only industrial activities are permitted in the zone Slater’s wave company has its eyes on. The affiliated firm wants the county to change that rule, though, so the surf ranch and a 2,000-foot long wave pool can be built.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. Clearly, some locals aren’t keen on the thought of surfing unchangingly perfect waves every day. Both sides have valid arguments, so it’s easy to see how this is causing some cognitive dissonance.