Sand-replenishing project appears resurrected, thanks to Army Corps
By Janine Zúñiga UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Thursday, July 15, 2010 at midnight
Sand replenishing could begin in the fall if approvals are granted by the Imperial Beach City Council, San Diego port officials and the Army Corps of Engineers.
A plan to bring 300,000 cubic yards of sand to Imperial Beach’s shore may be back on track.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to deepen the San Diego Bay entrance called for dumping the sand early last year just off Imperial Beach’s coast. The project was postponed indefinitely in October because of permitting delays and scaled back to 100,000 cubic yards after logistic complications prevented the placement of the beach-quality sand closer to the city’s shoreline.
Since then, the Army Corps agreed to forego the use of its larger but limited dredging equipment in place of a contractor’s smaller and more maneuverable apparatus. Additionally, the San Diego Unified Port District agreed to take $1 million of $1.8 million previously approved for a larger, more uncertain federal sand renourishment project in Imperial Beach and redirect about $300,000 of it for the bay-sand project.
Both actions allow for the original 300,000 cubic yards of sand to be deposited closer to the city’s beach.
All that’s left now is getting the changes approved.
The Imperial Beach City Council agreed last week to ask the Army Corps to enter into an agreement allowing both to participate in the San Diego Harbor Maintenance Dredging Project. They also agreed to use the Port District’s $300,000 for the project.
Without threatening any future federal funding for the larger Silver Strand Shoreline Renourishment Project, Imperial Beach is looking for ways to keep all of its sand-replenishment options open.
The council also agreed to ask the state Department of Boating and Waterways about redirecting $4.2 million also earmarked for the Silver Strand project for a third sand project, this one proposed by the San Diego Association of Governments. The council also supported the use of $700,000 in port funding, the balance of the $1 million, toward SANDAG’s Regional Beach Sand Project.
“We’re exploring other potential options to fund the most imminent projects as soon as possible,” said Greg Wade, community development director.
The SANDAG project is a repeat of a 2001 effort that placed 2.1 million cubic yards of sand on county beaches.
The Silver Strand Shoreline Renourishment Project, which was sidelined last year after it received no funding in this year’s federal energy and water appropriations bill, was authorized in 2007. City officials had hoped funding would follow.
The Shoreline Renourishment Project would place 1.6 million cubic yards of sand on the Imperial Beach shore, with periodic deposits for 50 years. A funding request has been submitted for next year’s appropriations bill.
Right now, the best hope is for the city to get sand from the Army Corps’ bay-deepening project.
Wade said he hopes to get all city approvals for that in place for the July 21 council meeting. The Port District also needs to approve the agreements, as does the Army Corps. He said work could begin as early as this fall.
The SANDAG project won’t get started until 2012.
The Port District has asked that if it funds the bay-dredging project, the Army Corps and Imperial Beach should establish a long-term dredging arrangement.