Lagoon prepares for dredging project

CARLSBAD — The Batiquitos Lagoon will undergo weeks of activity for ecosystem enrichment efforts. Its dredging project, championed by the California Department Fish and Game and State Land Commission, will remove sand from the lagoon and move it to South Carlsbad State Beach and to the nearby bluffs in Encinitas.
The sand dredging endeavor is part of the Batiquitos Lagoon Enhancement Project, which was established in 1997 to maintain a healthy ecology while replenishing sand in target areas.
Steven Jantz, associate engineer of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the project allows tidal waters to reach the entire lagoon, which in turn provides a healthy ecosystem for all the birds and fish.
“If the western portions of the lagoon are not maintained properly, the tidal influences would be muted thereby affecting the ability for the fine sediments to be flushed through to the ocean,” he said. “This would result in water backing up in the lagoon and the water would not be able to circulate through the lagoon system causing a stagnate situation. “
The above scenario, he said, would be contrary to the original enhancement project.
Warren Wong, environmental scientist and reserve manager for the Batiquitos Lagoon, said the dredging prevents the area from acquiring too much sand buildup and encourages the natural tidal path to ebb and flow.
According to Wong, they have until March 1, 2012, to complete the dredge because of the bird mating season. “But we hope to get done well before that date,” he said.
The dredge undertaking is comprised of three elements. Jantz said the first is dredging roughly 118,000 cubic yards of sand from the middle lagoon basin, located between I-5 and the railroad tracks, which will be pumped through a large pipe system to the beach segment south of the lagoon entrance with the ocean.
“Second, the Department of Fish and Game will be recontouring the existing bird nesting islands and rebuilding a portion of siltation basin in the lagoon’s western basin between the railroad tracks and Carlsbad Boulevard,” Jantz said. “And third, the Department of Fish and Game will be lowering the sand level along the stretch of beach west of Carlsbad Boulevard.”
Wong said the Batiquitos Lagoon is dredged every few years. “The last one we did was in 2006/2007,” he said. The timeframe can depend on the environmental changes and sand buildup.
The monitoring and managing of the lagoon conditions, Jantz said, has been under the purview of the California Department of Fish and Game since 1997. “The Department of Fish and Game hired a consultant to prepare a series of monitoring reports over time identifying the amount of sand which needs to be dredged as well as the location of where the operation should take place,” Jantz said. “It is these reports which justified the project need as well as the dredging location.”
City staff said commuters shouldn’t experience any traffic delays during the dredging project. Because the sand will be transferred under the Carlsbad Boulevard bridges by pipe systems, traffic interruptions are highly unlikely.
“The city recognizes the importance of allowing the tide to enter and leave the lagoon normally to allow for water distribution,” Jantz said. “These projects are a great example of many different agencies working together to help protect the environment and support our local beaches.”

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