Posted on January 1, 2024
Boaters and visitors in Marina del Rey should get used to seeing the “Sea Horse” floating in the harbor.
The dredging vessel and its accompanying scow, the Robert L., will operate continuously over the next five months to remove 400,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of sediment — enough to fill 100 Olympic-size swimming pools — from the harbor’s entrance and the north jetty.
The nearly $7.2 million project, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is slated to begin Monday, Jan. 1, and will run 24 hours a day until May, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. Inclement weather expected over the New Year weekend pushed the original start date back by a few days. The last dredging in the area was in 2016.
Ideally, such projects should happen every five years, to prevent the shoaling and sediment buildup now hindering navigation through the harbor’s channels, said Carol Baker, deputy director of community and operation services at Beaches and Harbors.
“Because of the pandemic, it was delayed, so there’s quite an accumulation,” she said. “It was long overdue and more than welcome.”
The shoaling — shallow waters created by the shifting of sediment — has made it more difficult to get in and out of the marina safely, Baker said.
“It funnels everyone closer together and it makes it a more narrow channel,” she said.
Of particular concern is the risk and slowdown the shoaling creates for first responders. The harbor is home to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lifeguard Division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Department’s harbor patrol.
“All of those first responders need to be able to easily exit and enter the marina to return to base and to respond to calls,” Baker said.
Once completed, the harbor’s entrance is expected to return to a depth of 20 feet during low tide.
Using a clamshell bucket attached to a crane, the Sea Horse will scoop up sediment and deposit it in the Robert L dump scow. The scow will then transport and release the sand and other dregs offshore near Dockweiler State Beach roughly four to five times per day. The materials — more than 37,000 dump trucks worth — will naturally replenish the beach at Dockweiler, Baker said.
The project may create delays for those using the marina because portions of the channels will become impassable at times, she said. A public safety advisory sent out by the Department of Beaches and Harbors warns boaters in the area to reduce speeds, maintain a safe distance from the dredging equipment, operate during daylight hours, if possible, and stay within designated channels at all times.