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Winter storms delay start to Solana Beach-Encinitas sand replenishment project

In 2000, Solana Beach and Encinitas reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers for help with their eroding coastline.

Decades of human development have interrupted the natural flow of sand onto the beaches there, causing a gradually shrinking coastline.

In Solana Beach, sand loss means that waves are encroaching on the bluffs, threatening homes and public infrastructure.


After more than two decades of planning, environmental studies and the infusion of federal money, the sand replenishment project is now ready to start.

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said the project will prevent further erosion.

"It buffers the bluffs, and that's our thing. Our whole beach is basically lined with 60-, 70-, 80-foot tall bluffs," she said. "It's different than the beaches in Del Mar and in Cardiff, in many places.”

Rep. Mike Levin, D-CA-49th, was instrumental in getting $30.5 million for the project, which also includes sand replenishment for Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas, from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed two years ago.

"What I will tell you is that this wasn't easy securing these federal funds," he said at a Dec. 18 news conference in San Clemente. "And what we will see is a 50-foot wide sandy beach or 50 feet additional sandy beach.”


Levin also helped secure funding for the sand replenishment project in Orange County. The plan was for the Army Corps to finish the replenishment in San Clemente before starting the Solana Beach-Encinitas project, which was slated to begin mid-January.

However, a succession of winter storms caused a delay in the San Clemente project.

"So because of the storm swells that we had over the holidays, we had to cease operations," said Doland Cheung, project manager for the Corps. "It's not only a potential equipment issue, but it's also a safety issue as well for the operators."

That delay means the Solana Beach-Encinitas project will be delayed as well. Cheung estimates that the project there will start around the end of the month.

In preparation for the project, Solana Beach has already installed a pipeline at Fletcher Cove, which will bring the dredged sand onto the beach. The sand comes from the dredge off-shore at the mouth of the San Dieguito River.

The sand replenishment is a 50-year commitment for the Corps, which will replenish the sand several times.

“We will do roughly eight additional renourishment events over those 50 years," Chueng said. "The average cycle based upon our computer modeling is roughly about six years between renourishment cycles.”

The initial replenishment will add 700,000 cubic yards of sand in Solana Beach and 340,000 cubic yards in Encinitas.

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