Sand projects will replenish beaches

Three beach nourishment projects are bringing more sand to Solana Beach, Del Mar and the rest of the San Diego coastline.

First, a regional sediment management plan is underway to coordinate future beach nourishment projects, both planned and opportunistic. A draft report is available. Cities and individuals can comment on appropriate volumes of sand to be placed at specific sites along the coast.

The report also identifies possible sand sources and stockpile locations, so small excavation projects could be combined.

This report, once adopted by the region and individual jurisdictions would help streamline future beach nourishment projects. The plan should be finalized in February and adopted by San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

The second regional beach sand nourishment project, also organized by SANDAG, is moving through the preliminary engineering phase. The $22 million project is expected to pump about 2 million cubic yards of sand onto the San Diego coastline by the end of 2011, or the beginning of 2012, Chris Webb, of engineering firm Moffat and Nichol, said.

The California Department of Boating and Waterways has promised to contribute 85 percent of the ticket price, with local jurisdictions funding the remainder. Solana Beach’s share is ready to fund with seawall mitigation dollars.

“This is a once-in-a-generation project,” said Solana Beach Councilman Joe Kellejian, of the significant state contribution.

The first regional sand replenishment project in 2001 was a success for many receiving sites and increased beach widths for several years. But the sand used for Solana Beach was too small and washed away within a matter of months.

This time is expected to be different. Webb said excellent sources of coarse sand near the San Dieguito river mouth and south of the San Elijo Lagoon outfall were found.

In 2001, the dredge sites were farther out from shore in deeper water. This time, the best sites were discovered closer to shore.

However, it is still likely that any sand placed at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach will eventually wash away because of the geometry of the coastline.

“Coarser sand will stay longer,” Webb said. “But it will disperse off a straight-line coast.”

That’s why the city is investigating sand retention devices, such as a submerged reef.

Solana Beach is continuing to work on an Army Corps of Engineers project to place a sand retention structure at Fletcher Cove. Computer modeling for a submerged, manmade reef will be complete by the summer for public review, said Leslea Meyerhoff, the city’s coastal consultant.