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Sand replenishment operation moves from Solana Beach to Encinitas

A crew from Manson Construction assembles equipment Thursday, March 7, at Moonlight Beach to begin sand replenishment in Encinitas.

Posted on March 11, 2024

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sand replenishment project has finished in Solana Beach and is gearing up to start widening the shoreline in Encinitas.

Equipment is being assembled at Moonlight Beach, and sand distribution there will begin this weekend, said Daniel Heyenbruch, a civil engineer with the agency. Completion will take four to six weeks.

“There will be some sections of the beach open and other spots will be closed” during the work, Heyenbruch said Thursday, March 7. Both the Corps and its contractor will have people on site to monitor safety.

Encinitas beaches will be widened by about 50 feet along a 7,800-foot stretch from Beacon’s to Boneyards, city officials said. More than 340,000 cubic yards of sand will be delivered there.

The Encinitas work is the second half of the first phase of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project that has been in the planning stages more than 20 years.

Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, announced in January 2022 that $30.5 million in federal funding had been obtained for the project, giving it the green light to obtain permits, issue a contract and start pumping.

Sand for both sites is being dredged onto a hopper barge from a borrow pit 35 to 55 feet deep in the ocean about 3,500 feet offshore from the San Dieguito River outlet at Del Mar. The barge then heads north and anchors offshore from the delivery site to pump the material ashore.

Prevailing ocean currents flow south and are likely to eventually carry at least some of the borrowed sand back to Del Mar and perhaps even to the offshore deposit where it was found, hence the term “borrow pit.”

Manson Construction, the contractor for the Corps, started work in early January in Solana Beach. Last week the company completed the delivery of 700,000 cubic yards of sand at Fletcher Cove, widening the beach there by about 150 feet.

In all, Manson added about 25 acres of beach stretching almost a mile-and-a-half from the Tide Park stairs to the southern city limits at Del Mar, according to Solana Beach officials.

“It went really well,” Heyenbruch said.

The federal agency plans to continue replenishing beaches in the two cities every five to 10 years over the 50-year life of the project, with the final deliveries in 2074.

The sand is intended to be a buffer to slow the shoreline erosion that threatens public and private property along the entire California coast. Wide, sandy beaches also are an important recreation asset and a vital component of the region’s tourism industry.

Manson is contracted by the Corps of Engineers for a separate but similar sand replenishment project in San Clemente. That project was suspended in late December because of the poor quality of material, mostly rocks, gravel and shell fragments, found at the chosen borrow pit offshore near the Oceanside Harbor.

A Corps of Engineers spokesperson said March 7 the agency is working to obtain permits and environmental permits for a new borrow site that will meet the needs of San Clemente. It was unclear where the new site might be or how long the approvals needed might take.

“This project remains vitally important to our community and our region,” San Clemente Mayor Victor Cabral said in February.

“We continue to work with our partners to get our beach sand project back on track in the very near future and appreciate the continued actions of our state and federal partners to deliver a successful project to San Clemente,” Cabral said.


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