Wetlands restoration project mobilizes

Plans to excavate about 15,000 cubic yards of sand from the San Dieguito River channel beginning Oct. 13 with completion expected in late October. Courtesy photo

Plans to excavate about 15,000 cubic yards of sand from the San Dieguito River channel beginning Oct. 13 with completion expected in late October. Courtesy photo

DEL MAR — The San Dieguito Wetlands Restoration Project lead, Southern California Edison (SCE), plans to excavate about 15,000 cubic yards of sand from the San Dieguito River channel beginning Oct. 13 with completion expected in late October. The sand will be placed south of the river mouth for beach replenishment. Once completed, beach visitors will notice more ocean water flowing through the river channel as ocean tides bring in fish, plankton and nutrients via the river mouth into rare wetland habitats recently constructed or restored – tides which constantly reinvigorate the ecosystem.

Excavation approvals were provided by the city of Del Mar, Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission. Equipment will be working in the area between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, as needed. Equipment will be parked overnight on the southern side of the San Dieguito River next to the project site. For safety reasons, the trail on the southwest side of San Dieguito River Coast Highway will be closed.

Excavating the San Dieguito River mouth inlet is one of the on-going maintenance activities for the restored wetlands and the timing is dependent on the volume of sand that builds up. Removing the sand will enhance the natural tidal flows between the Pacific Ocean and the hundreds of acres of new and existing habitat that depend on daily tidal flushing.  It will also move sand that would normally remain in the channel onto the beach.

“The removal of the sand that’s moved into the inlet channel will avoid potential degradation of water quality, and loss of biological resources within the tidal wetlands,” said David Kay, SCE principal manager for environmental projects. “As part of our ongoing commitment, we will periodically move the sand out of the inlet channel and onto the beach, and monitor the beach for project effects.”

The goal of the San Dieguito Wetlands Restoration Project, along with other companion environmental projects, is to offset any adverse impact to ocean ecosystems that was caused by the operation of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station cooling system owned by SCE and minority partner SDG&E.

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