It’s unfortunate that the city council recently threw a monkey wrench into our harbor dredging plan. Whether intentional or not, they voted 6-1 (Duffield voting no) to slow down and potentially kill our harbor dredging project. I grew up on the harbor and have a business on the bay. I’ve seen the results of benign […]
Lower Newport Bay’s main channel (the harbor) has not been dredged to its required 25-foot “design depth” since 1938. Our harbor is the primary economic, recreational and water quality resource asset in Newport Beach.
We haven’t had the money or political will to dredge the harbor’s main channel to its federally required design depth, until now.
As part of the U.S. system of waterways, Newport Harbor’s dredging is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government.
But we are in competition for federal funds with the nation’s major ports and naval bases.
Finally, after decades of lobbying, we are receiving nearly $16 million in dredging funds thanks to the hard work of Representatives Michelle Steel and Ken Calvert.
With funding in the bank, it’s now the city’s job to deliver a dredging plan that passes regulatory muster with the multitude of agencies that must approve the project. As the former Harbor Master, I can attest to the fact that the actual dredging will take less time than the permitting process.
We are at an inflection point in this critical process.
Dozens of Harbor Commission and City Council meetings with robust public input have resulted in a certified Environmental Impact Report It lays out a plan to bury and cap nominally contaminated dredge material (sand) in a hole between Lido and Bay Islands. It’s the same process used across the U.S. since the 1980’s to decommission landfills.
At last week’s city council meeting, the council majority agreed to allow an open-end third-party review of the City’s approved dredge project and one advanced by well-intentioned Lido Island residents.
This 11th hour review is a bad idea. It jeopardizes the federal funding and scheduling of the multi-million dollar dredging project for Newport Harbor.
A delay for an independent third-party review could set this whole project back years by putting a halt to all the momentum the process has at this time.
This in turn could make the cost rise substantially if the City could get it back on track with the Federal and State governments dredging contractor.
Our window to dredge is open now. Confusing state, local and federal agencies will close it.
Dennis Durgan / Chairman, Newport Harbor Foundation and Former Newport Beach Harbor Master
By Laylan Connelly – Orange County Register
Officials have secured $8.3 million to dredge Newport Harbor in the $14 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but sand replenishment projects for two stretches of Orange County coastline were not included.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel said dredging of Newport Beach’s harbor is long overdue in her announcement Wednesday, Jan. 19, about the federal funding, but also stressed the need for added sand along the coastline. Funding for the Surfside-Sunset Replenishment Project, which would seed beaches through Huntington Beach south to Newport Beach will have to hope for final approval from another Congressional appropriations bill, the timeline of which has been unclear.
So is the San Clemente Shoreline Project, which would replenish beaches in the southern city, including improving the buffer of shoreline along a key coastal rail line.
Both projects have been stalled for years, awaiting funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the replenishments that help create a beach buffer that would protect roads, homes and infrastructure from ocean flooding, as well as keep beaches – one of the region’s major tourism draws – from disappearing.
In 1962, Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act, which required the Army Corps of Engineers to address the impacts of the constructed flood control structures on the sand deposits that should be happening naturally along shorelines.
The $23 million Surfside-Sunset project – $15.5 million in federal money and $7.63 from local agencies – would add 1.75 million cubic yards of sand to Surfside, which would then be pushed down the coast by ocean currents and waves, spreading it 12 miles south to Newport Beach.
The last time sand was added was 2010 – previously the replenishment happened every five to seven years.
“There is more work to do, and I will continue to demand action from the administration and the Army Corps to fully fund the Surfside-Sunset Replenishment Project because we are one natural disaster away from devastation,” Steel said in a statement.
San Clemente has been waiting about two decades for its big replenishment project. The city two years ago received a boost in the amount of $500,000 in federal funding for the design phase.
With no beach left, a wave crashes against the rocks and stairs just below the railroad tracks at North Beach in San Clemente on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.(Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The project would add 251,000 cubic yards of sand from Linda Lane beach to T-Street beach south of the pier. The sand has shrunk so much there in recent years, city leaders have discussed the possibly of moving San Clemente’s Marine Safety Headquarters off the beach. When big surf hits, the surf laps onto the railroad tracks.
About $9.3 million was requested in the bipartisan infrastructure bill by U.S. Rep. Mike Levin for the San Clemente Shoreline Project.
Levin helped secure $30.5 million in federal funding for the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project and $1.8 million for the Oceanside Special Shoreline Study, his office announced Wednesday.
The Encinitas-Solana Beach project involves placing 700,000 cubic yards of sand along 7,200 feet of beach in Solana Beach and 340,000 cubic yards of sand along 7,800 feet of beach in Encinitas.
The Oceanside shoreline study will create a plan to mitigate erosion and other effects from the construction of Camp Pendleton Harbor and will restore beach conditions along the affected shores to the conditions that existed before its development.
Levin’s office said he is also “continuing to fight to finalize federal funding for the San Clemente Shoreline Project.”
The Newport Beach City Council approved an agreement with a firm for federal advocacy services related to harbor dredging efforts and programs, Feb. 27. Carpi & Clay was retained to represent Newport Beach at the federal level in hopes the firm would help bring the city’s issues to the forefront when it comes to harbor dredging.
“The city has been actively working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers … and to a limited extent, federal elected representatives, to present and educate them on our dredging needs in Newport Harbor, as well as to get our project on the Corps’ upcoming project funding list,” city staff told council members in a report. “Keeping our project in focus and on the recommended funding list of both the Corps and the many elected representatives that need to review and approve it is, and continues to be, a significant challenge particularly because we do not have a presence in Washington, D.C.”
An Army Corps study in 2017 revealed there is about 650,000 cubic yards of sediment remaining in federal waters and must be dredged to “maintain adequate navigation.”