Sea-level rise is often pointed to as the unbeatable culprit chomping away at Southern California’s most popular asset. But rising seas aren’t the only reason the coastline is disappearing.
Decades of development along the coast blocked sand flow to beaches. Local shores historically have had a helping hand from the federal government in staying wide and sandy, but that assistance, like the sand itself, has dwindled in recent years.
City officials in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are concerned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to funded the major sand replenishment project that for decades kept the northern section of Orange County’s coastline flush with sand, providing a buffer between the ocean and communities and protecting a major economic driver for tourism to the region.
“It’s harmful to our beaches to not replenish our sand. It’s just time to do it, it’s way overdue,” Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon said. “It needs federal funds.”
Huntington Beach and Newport Beach city councils in recent weeks have passed resolutions to show they still support one of the region’s biggest sand replenishment projects, the Surfside-Sunset Beach Nourishment Project. Typically undertaken every five to seven years since the 1960s, the project plants sand that the ocean currents and waves then spread along the 12 miles from Alamitos Bay to Newport Beach.
But because there’s been no federal funding, the project hasn’t happened since 2010. And the impacts are starting to show, local officials said, as the sea creeps closer to homes and businesses that could soon be, if not already, in danger.
“We need our rivers to deliver sediment to the coast. If we don’t have that, we have to truck it to fill in the beaches,” said Brett Sanders, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Irvine. Coasts aren’t just facing sea-level rise, they are facing it with shrinking beaches, he said. “It’s a double-whammy.”
A man walks his dogs along the beach at the mouth of the Santa Ana River in Newport Beach as an excavator digs up sand from the Santa Ana River channel. Newport and the county dredge out sand regularly from the Santa Ana River to put on the beach, but more is needed for the regional Surfside-Sunset project that typically happens ever 5-7 years but has halted in recent years. (File photo by Sam Gangwer , Orange County Register/SCNG) Growing narrow beaches
In the 1920s, beaches along Southern California were naturally narrow, Sanders said.
“Some of the leaders realized the beaches were too small to meet the demand for tourism,” he said. “The development of harbors and ports for industry, the military and recreation all aligned with the need to grow the beaches to meet needs for the growing tourism industry.”
In the 1940s, dredging to make way for the Long Beach Harbor and the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station helped put sand on nearby beaches, allowing for an expansive, sandy coastline in the decades that followed. Similar big beach sand deposits happened when the Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor were built.
“Basically these projects put …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment
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