COAST CITIES — A joint project between Encinitas, Solana Beach and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore eight miles of shoreline in the two cities is proceeding almost 10 years after the original study was authorized.
The first entirely new beach restoration project in California in more than three decades will begin at the mouth of Batiquitos Lagoon in Encinitas and include all 1.7 miles of the Solana Beach coastline except an area north of Tide Park.
“That area is specifically avoided because of the presence of Table Tops Reef, which contains sensitive resources,” Leslea Meyerhoff, a consultant with Solana Beach, said. “The goal of the project is to provide storm damage reduction along the beaches and the bluffs.”
Sand will be dredged from offshore borrow sites in the San Diego region and pumped onto the beaches. It will then be combined in a slurry mix and worked into place with bulldozers.
The additional sand will increase the width of beaches in Solana Beach by approximately 45 feet, which will decrease erosion by reducing the impact of waves crashing against the bluffs. “As a side benefit, a wider beach would also improve recreational benefits,” Meyerhoff said. Replenishment is tentatively scheduled to occur approximately every five to 10 years for 50 years.
Solana Beach first authorized a project study April 22, 1999. In July 2001, the city entered into an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to corroborate on the project with Encinitas. A draft environmental impact report, or EIR, circulated in 2005 prompted “substantial public and agency input,” Meyerhoff said.
As a result, items such as sand volume, beach width and the replenishment cycle were reviewed to reduce potential impacts on offshore resources and recreational activities, including surfing.
This August, Col. Thomas Magness, district commander of the Los Angeles Army Corps of Engineers, sent Solana Beach a letter stating a recently competed benefit-cost analysis confirmed an “economically justified federal project exists,” David Ott, city manager, said. “After all these years I guess (that) is good news,” Ott said.
At the Sept. 23 meeting, Solana Beach City Council unanimously adopted a resolution amending the feasibility cost-sharing agreement to move the project forward. The project is currently undergoing a comprehensive re-evaluation that will include an update of the coastal engineering analysis. That will trigger a new draft EIR, which is expected to be presented next year for public input.
Construction is slated to begin in 2012. The estimated cost for the total project is $44 million, including the 50-year sand replenishment. About $1.8 million is needed now for the reformulation process. Project costs are being shared, with the Army Corps paying 50 percent and Solana Beach and Encinitas each funding 25 percent. The necessary current share to complete the study is about $460,000 for each city.
The California Department of Boating and Waterways has provided funding for the cities totaling $308,750, which includes a recent grant for $71,250. Those funds are available through June 2010.
Staff for both cities will work together to review and authorize all contracts.
Councilmen Joe Kellejian and Tom Campbell have been working on the project for eight years. Kellejian described it as “a process that we hope will culminate in sand on our beaches, and the saving of lives and providing recreation to people of this area.”
“This is a very, very important project that really needs, at this point, to stay on direct course,” Kellejian said. “We can’t have any hiccups at all.”