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San Clemente’s delayed sand project set to resume end of April

A major sand replenishment project aimed at bolstering San Clemente’s beaches near the pier area will resume by the end of April, following a pause in operations since mid-January due to rocks being pumped onto shore instead of sand.

The $14 million, US Army Corps of Engineers-led project more than two decades in the making is expected to add 251,000 cubic yards of sand between T-Street south of the pier and Linda Lane beach to the north, one of several ways the beach town is attempting to keep its eroding beaches intact.

Mason Construction kicked off the project in December, but was met with troubles after the dredge site off Oceanside produced more rocks and shells than expected, instead of fluffy sand. The city sent a letter asking the operator and Army Corps of Engineers to halt the project until a better sand source could be found.

Instead of using the original Oceanside borrow site, the dredger will now pull sand from offshore of Surfside Beach, where another mega US Army Corps of Engineers replenishment project is  underway. That $23 million project is expected to add 1.1 million cubic yards of sand to the north end of the county’s coastline.

Following its departure from San Clemente in mid-January, the Mason dredger went further south to San Diego to work on other projects already on its schedule.

Its work is just wrapping up for a replenishment project off Solana Beach and crews will now head to Encinitas for a project before coming back to San Clemente, San Clemente Mayor Victor Cabral said Wednesday, March 13, during a regional update meeting addressing chronic sand troubles in south Orange County.

“It’s important we get it done,” he said.

The project will operate 24 hours a day for 30 to 60 days, said Leslea Meyerhoff, San Clemente’s coastal administrator.

Getting the dredger to complete the job while it is still in the area is crucial because bringing it back to Southern California from the Pacific Northwest, where it is based, would have cost millions of dollars and possibly years of delays, officials said.

“It could have been a year, or two, or more,” Cabral said. “It’s exciting. The staff, city, state and federal governments have done everything in their power to get permitting done expeditiously. We’re all excited about the project happening before the summer season.”

The operator left a subline installed off the beach to hook up with a pipe that will pump the sand onto the shore when the project resumes, Meyerhoff said.

The project’s completion is critical to San Clemente’s residents and tourism economy, and for protecting local infrastructure, including a key rail corridor that runs along the coast in town that is vulnerable to the ocean’s waves without a sand buffer in place, officials said.

While the northern Surfside sand replenishment has been performed periodically since the 1960s, San Clemente’s project is being done for the first time. It is expected to be repeated every five years, for the next 50 years, though each round will need to secure federal funding approvals – a hitch that delayed the regular replenishments further north in recent years.



But more needs to be done to fix the area’s chronic sand erosion troubles outside of that project area, with decision-makers and concerned citizens gathering Wednesday for a South Orange County Coastal Resilience Strategic Plan stakeholder meeting.

“We have to do more to maintain our beaches. We maintain our parks, we maintain our roads, we fill our potholes, we make sure our buildings are upgraded,” said Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley, who spearheaded the county-led meeting. “We need to start doing the same for our beaches.”

The strategic plan aims at forming a regional collaborative of agencies to build coastal resilience spanning 10 miles from Dana Point Harbor to San Clemente.

“It’s not just about a plan that sits on a shelf, we have to take that plan and implement it,” Foley said. “This plan we hope will be the foundation to advance a regional climate resilience to set goals, to be able to achieve those goals in a coordinated manner.”

The regional group will explore funding ideas – such as cost sharing, grants, mitigation fees or taxes – and developing criteria for projects, giving potential areas a ranking priority based on beach conditions, regional benefits and project readiness, said Meyerhoff, who served as a regional representative and presenter at the meeting.

The next steps are to form a regional collaborative, define a near-term regional beach nourishment program, obtain funding, implement priority projects and then develop mid- and long-term regional goals and projects.

Source: Orange County Register

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