Sunday, February 11, 2007
Pam Slater-Price is a San Diego County supervisor on the board's Clean Water Subcommittee and SANDAG's Shoreline Preservation Committee. Her 3rd District includes the coastal communities of Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas and Leucadia. She has an editorial in today's North County Times about sand replenishment.
Answers must go past Army Corps solution
For decades California's many jurisdictions have had an uncooperative agreement with Mother Nature. They have not been able to figure out the puzzle of our beaches. Beach sand retention and replenishment is the Rubik's Cube of preservation efforts.
Years of interference and neglect have hurt our coast. A lack of understanding, false starts and even faulty science have gotten us to where we are today. It doesn't mean we didn't try to do it right. California just didn't know how.
Sand that once flowed freely to replenish all our county's beaches bottlenecks at points along the coast and leaves many beaches sand-starved. Since the 1970s, governments constructed debris basins to collect sediments, installed breakwaters and jetties that trapped sand, built sea walls that cut off sand supply for our eroding bluffs, and concreted river channels preventing sand flow to the beaches. For decades, sand mining and development impeded or prevented the flow of sand.
What humans have caused, humans must now correct.
It is imperative that local governments work cooperatively to adopt SANDAG's beach sand replenishment plan, tailored to our region. And we must put in place the latest technology to keep that sand on the beach. Securing our fair share of federal funding should be a regional priority. Since East Coast states are relentless in their quest for beach funds, we too must work harder in Washington, D.C. We must also purchase a dredge with Proposition 84 money. Additionally, we need to plan and implement phased retreat from the bluffs to undo the mistakes of the past. Hardscape sea walls must be avoided as much as possible, and keeping sand on the beach provides a superior solution to bluff failure.
As late as 2005 the Army Corps of Engineers said its optimal plan is beach nourishment with notch fills. Good plan, but it's clear that local governments must think well beyond that effort or the region will continue to play catch-up to maintain our beaches.
Four million tourists use our beaches annually. Weather and beaches are the region's No. 1 draw. Perhaps hotel room taxes should be raised on those 4 million visitors. A percentage should be directed to beach sand replenishment and retention.
Clearly, those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it. So we must go directly to the source to stop erosion, say no to coastal projects that will deplete sand, make sand retention a priority, and increase fines for overmining of sand.
Through hard work this region can reverse the damage decades of interference and neglect have caused along our coast. But it will take a concerted will to get it done.
The die was cast long ago. It is past time to set things straight.
I get nervous when the government starts playing around with the beaches. The Army Corps of Engineers already destroyed Seaside beach once and it looks like they are doing it again. Sand replenishment programs are often a joke. Sometimes we get horrible quality sand. Sometimes the reefs and kelp beds are simply smothered under a blanket of sand, destroying them.
All the jetties and harbors and development of the coast have mucked up the natural sand flows. Now we have to spend big money dredging and pumping sand to keep sand on our beaches. Sand is still the best way to reinforce the bluffs so that they don't fall. But we must be mindful of the way replenish our beaches.
My number one concern is our fragile kelp beds. The kelp is just now making a comeback. Ideally, the kelp should stretch the entire coast of Encinitas and should be thick and wide. The kelp forest provide a nursery habitat for fish and lobster. The kelp beds groom swells and increase the quality of our local surf spots by keeping the waves clean and glassy all day.
Kelp needs to attach itself to rock and reef, it won't attach to a sandy bottom.
Since this photo was taken the kelp beds have grown in size but they are still not complete. The majority of the Leucadia coast should have nice thick, wide kelp beds.
In Australia the government worked with the local surfers to create these epic long sand points for their dredging projects, creating perfect waves. If we were smart we would do the same thing here.