What is going on?
In case you haven’t noticed, we are losing our beach, and have been for some time. The Southern California Coastline, especially areas along San Clemente and San Onofre, are disappearing and creating rocky, almost non-existent stretches of beach.
The question San Clemente residents have been asking is “what are we going to do?” The good news about 2016 is that a plan is taking shape, and we can rest assured that we are likely to see some progress on improving our shoreline within the next few years.
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What is sand replenishment?
Sand Replenishment (also known as beach nourishment) is the process of dumping or pumping sand from elsewhere onto an eroding shoreline to create a new beach or to widen the existing beach. Beach nourishment does not stop erosion, it simply gives the erosional forces (usually waves) something else to “chew on” for awhile.
Beach nourishment is often proposed when beach erosion threatens to remove an existing beach, make it too narrow to be used, and/or when property behind an eroding beach is threatened.
Who is working on it?
The short answer: City Government and Associated Counsel, Federal Government, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The long answer requires a bit of background: The City of San Clemente has been working on this issue since 2000. Joe Johnson, a project manager for the Los Angeles District Army Corps of Engineers, said the San Clemente plan is among five projects nationwide authorized to prevent hurricane and storm damage. He noted that wider beaches prevent waves from reaching man-made structures. This is especially important considering the upcoming El Niño weather cycle that could threaten our already diminishing shoreline.
San Clemente is approaching what is called the “design phase.” Federal regulations require a two-year monitoring phase before approving any sort of tangible action. During this monitoring phase, the wave climate, environmental resources, and ecological impact will all be assessed prior to receiving the green light. The City, Federal Government, and Army Corps of Engineers hope to finalize an agreement by the end of 2016 for funding and design proposals and hope to see sand hitting the beach by sometime in 2018.
Ok, So How is it Going to Work?
The initial installment of sand will involve 250,000 cubic yards, roughly equivalent to 25,000 trucks worth, to be dispersed between Linda Lane and just south of T-Street.
This large amount of beach-quality sand would be dredged from a site near Oceanside, taken by barge to San Clemente, and deposited along the 3,400-foot stretch of beach. This process will be repeated once every five to six years as needed. Additionally, by placing it in this area of town, the new sand will naturally replenish the other San Clemente beaches further south.
What will this cost?
The design phase will cost roughly $1 million. The Federal government will contribute $680,000. San Clemente has received a grant from State Boating and Waterways to cover the majority of the remaining fees.
The entire project has been estimated to cost $11 million. Factoring in the significant contribution by the Federal government as well as generous grants and donations, the city would be responsible for about $3.9 million. Potential funding options are currently in the works.
[For more information on this issue, contact the San Clemente Coastal Advisory Committee and visit their city website. If you would like to get involved, there are instructions in the above link about how to present your ideas, thoughts, and concerns at a future meeting]