Shoreline protection project moves forward

COAST CITIES — As work on one project to replenish sand on county beaches begins to wind down, Solana Beach City Council authorized staff at the Nov. 14 meeting to move forward with a more ambitious, long-term plan to reduce coastal erosion from storm damage predicted to occur during a 50-year period. 

A draft report will be released for a 60-day public review and comment period before the end of the year on a joint shoreline protection project between Encinitas, Solana Beach and the Army Corps of Engineers that was initially authorized in 1999.

The venture will restore more than eight miles of beach beginning at the mouth of Batiquitos Lagoon in Encinitas and stretching south to include the entire 1.7-mile Solana Beach coastline except an area north of Tide Park.

The plan is to place sand on beaches from offshore borrow sites, much like the 2012 Regional Beach and Sand Project currently nearly completion by the San Diego Association of Governments, but only in Solana Beach and Encinitas.

The beaches would be renourished on a regular cycle from 2015 until 2065.

The Army Corps is completing a draft integrated report, which includes a feasibility study, environmental impact report and environmental impact statement. Once that is done the document will be released for public review.

It will describe the project goals, which are to reduce coastal storm damage along the bluffs, provide shoreline protection and avoid or delay the need for new sea walls.

The report will also detail the baseline environmental conditions in the project area and potential environmental impacts. It will include alternatives, such as nourishment only, doing nothing or beach replenishment with engineered notch in-fills.

The latter features a hybrid mix of structural and nonstructural measures to provide protection. Existing notches and sea caves at the base of the bluffs would be filled to stabilize the lower bluff before adding sand. This alternative would result in narrower beach widths.

Options for Solana Beach range from a 100-foot-wide beach replenished on a 10-year cycle to a 200-foot-wide beach filled on a 13-year cycle. In Encinitas options range from a 50-foot-wide beach on a five-year cycle to a 100-foot-wide beach renourished every 10 years.

A five-year cycle isn’t an option for Solana Beach because a coastal engineer determined, after looking at erosion rates in the two cities, the sand would remain in Solana Beach longer, City Manager David Ott said, noting the target is volume rather than beach width.

Increasing beach width will decrease erosion by reducing the impact of waves crashing against the bluffs.

To justify federal involvement the project must provide an economic benefit.

“As a side benefit, a wider beach would also improve recreational benefits,” Leslea Meyerhoff, a consultant with Solana Beach, said.

Environmental issues to be addressed include sand movement up and down the coast, potential effects to offshore reefs and on recreational resources such as surfing, lagoon sediment, greenhouse gases and a sea level rise analysis.

There will be continuous monitoring to ensure no long-term damage to the area, including impacts to recreational uses such as surfing. Sand migration from the three lagoons in the project area will also be observed.

The estimated cost is $45 million. In addition to federal funding — approximately $4.7 million since 2000 — the California Department of Boating and Waterways has provided more than $1.1 million since 2001.

A notice of preparation, which formally initiates the public scoping and involvement process, was issued April 20. Solana Beach and Encinitas held meetings May 2 that were attended by less than two dozen people from both cities.

Meetings will be held in both cities during the upcoming public review period. In the event that only one of the two cities approves the project, “I think the whole thing would collapse,” Ott said.

 

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