Dredging will begin on Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Dredging will begin on Agua Hedionda Lagoon
Dredging sand out of the lagoon allows tidal circulation, which cools the Encina Power Plan. It also widens the beaches with sand deposits. Officials expect the project to be done by mid-April. Photo by Ellen Wright
CARLSBAD—About every two years, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon is dredged of sand to keep water flowing freely to cool the Encina Power Plant. The lagoon hasn’t been dredged for four years and is due to begin within the coming weeks.

“There’s a large sandbar in the lagoon consisting of sand that came from the beach,” said Kasia Trojanowska, parks planner for the city of Carlsbad. “The dredging puts the sand back on the beach so beach goers have a nice, sandy spot to place their towels and enjoy one of Carlsbad’s most popular attractions.”

Cabrillo Power I LLC, which operates the Encina Power Station and owns the lagoon, will pump about 500,000 cubic yards of sand from the western basin of the lagoon, according to Kristina Ray, communications manager for the city.

About half of the sand will be deposited between the intake and outlet jetties. A quarter of the sand will be placed south of the warm water jetty and the remainder will be put on the beaches between Tamarack and Oak avenues.

The sand deposited back on the shore near the warm water jetty makes the beach much wider, according to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation’s Discovery Center Operations Director Samantha Richter.

“(The amount of sand deposited) is significant. Everyone notices,” Richter said.

While the main reason for dredging the lagoon is to cool the power plant, it also benefits surrounding commercial businesses.

“The dredging of the outer lagoon is important to maintain the tidal circulation within the lagoon, which is important for the recreational, commercial (Carlsbad Aquafarm), and biological (Hubbs SeaWorld Fish Hatchery) uses of the lagoon,” Communications Director David B. Knox with NRG Energy, Cabrillo’s parent company, said.

The fish hatchery is a nonprofit research institute, which has released over 2 million endangered White Sea bass into the wild.

Cabrillo Power is responsible for one more dredging cycle, after which the responsibility will fall to the owner of the desalination plant under construction, Poseidon Water, according to Kyle Lancaster, parks superintendent for the city.

Dredging is necessary to maintain the lagoon. Without it, the lagoon wouldn’t exist Richter said.

“We rely on the saltwater to come in through the basin. If there was no saltwater coming in, it would dry up,” Richter said.

The project is expected to be done before the annual grunion run, which begins mid-April.

Beach access won’t be affected and pedestrians will still be able to use the walking paths near the seawall.

The Batiquitos Lagoon, which is located five miles south of Agua Hedionda, is also in need of dredging according to Parks and Recreation Board Commissioner Len Martyns.

At a board meeting on Nov. 12, Lancaster told him that the state’s Department of Fish and Game is responsible for dredging that lagoon.

The department does not dredge on a regular cycle, according to Lancaster. He said it is just a matter of the city “pushing the envelope” on the state to get dredging done.

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