OCEANSIDE — Dredging of Oceanside Harbor will continue through Harbor Days events this month and on into October.
The annual dredging project to remove built-up sand and ensure safe harbor navigation got a late start this year and continues to run into delays.
City officials have been frustrated with the slow work pace that has impacted summer tourists, local beach enjoyment and planned events.
“I’m very, very disappointed in the (dredging) company,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “They can’t get it done. They don’t have the equipment to work in the rough seas that the other company (which completed work last year) could.”
Most of the work setbacks have been due to high seas in which the company’s equipment cannot operate.
In August high waves also caused equipment damage, which further delayed operations.
Wood said the small dredging company is simply not equipped to do the job.
“The barge isn’t big enough, the pipe is half the size (of last year’s company pipe), everything is a disappointment,” Wood said.
The dredging project is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineer, which contracted CJW Construction to do the work for three years.
“Early on we had a lot of weather days (in which operations were shut down),” Greg Fuderer, Army Corps senior public affairs specialist, said.
Fuderer added weather is still the major cause of work shutdowns, and wave action on the south side of the channel continues to pose challenges.
Other stops in work have been due to sand dredging surveys, equipment moves, and courtesy shutdowns for big summer crowds and planned beach events.
In September operations stopped for Memorial Day weekend crowds, and the annual pier swim.
Later this month some dredging equipment will be moved before upcoming Harbor Days events, and operations will pause a half day for the Tiki Swim Marathon Sept. 25, which is part of Harbor Days.
“We’re moving some of our equipment away from there before (Sept. 21) to allow more access,” Fuderer said. “Work will continue outside the swim event.”
Between the project start date in June and Sept. 14, there have been 38 days of active dredging. To date most of the north side of the channel has been dredged. Built-up sediment remains on the south side of the channel.
A welcome benefit of the annual project is dredged sand is piped onto city beaches.
However the late timing of operations has forced summer beachgoers to walk over dredge pipes.
Additionally beachfront homeowners have reported safety concerns and complaints about equipment storage.
To share work progress, address concerns and remedy complaints weekly meetings between Army Corps, the project contractor and city officials are held.
Wood said it’s nice to talk through things, but the bottom line is getting the job done.
“If they don’t get it done, it doesn’t help anything,” Wood said. “They’re working through the busiest season of the year. We’ve tried to work through it. Frustration is high.”
Sand replenishment operations are now located about 30-feet north of Oceanside Pier near a fenced equipment storage area. Fuderer said this is the last stop for equipment, which has moved from the harbor southward down the beach.
A recent revision to operations is sand berms will be formed and maintained on the beach to slow sand from washing back into the ocean.
Latest estimates, as of Sept. 8, are about 175,770 cubic yards of sand have been dredged and put on city beaches since operations began in June. This is approximately 67 percent of the total target amount of 260,000 cubic yards.
The expected project completion date is Oct. 3. Army Corps has spoken to the state Coastal Commission about the postponed end date and received an OK to continue work until the job is done.