REGION — A plan to add sand to the Solana Beach and Encinitas coastline over a 50-year span has been approved by the federal government.
Shortly after Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, authorizing more than $91 million for water projects, the president signed it into law.
“I am proud to deliver on a top priority for the communities of Encinitas and Solana Beach,” Rep. Darrell Issa stated in a press release. “Erosion of the beaches and bluffs in our area (has) presented significant safety concerns we can correct through the careful work of the Army Corps of Engineers and our local and federal leaders.”
The two cities have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers for about 15 years to reduce coastal storm damage to more than eight miles of beach beginning at the mouth of Batiquitos Lagoon in Encinitas and stretching south to include almost the entire 1.7-mile Solana Beach coastline.
In addition to preventing bluff-top homes from falling into the ocean, the sand replacement is expected to improve recreational opportunities, decrease the need for sea walls and increase safety by reducing the threat of bluff failures caused by wave action.
According to the proposal, which will create 35 acres of new beach area over five decades, Encinitas will have an initial placement volume of 340,000 cubic yards of sand for an added average beach width of 50 feet. Replenishment will occur every five years and include 220,000 cubic yards of sand.
Solana Beach will receive 700,000 cubic yards to create an average beach width of 150 feet and
get an additional 290,000 cubic yards every 10 years.
Sand will be dredged from three offshore sites, avoiding Table Tops, a popular surf spot in Solana Beach.
At the request of the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, additional surf monitoring was added to the project as a mitigation measure.
The total 50-year cost, which includes monitoring and mitigation, is estimated to be $100.1 million in Encinitas and $64.7 million in Solana Beach, with average annual costs of $2.1 million and $1.6 million, respectively.
“The Solana Beach-Encinitas Shoreline Protection Project will significantly enhance safety on our beaches by protecting the bluffs as well as our public infrastructure,” Solana Beach Mayor Dave Zito said. “This project will also boost the economy of the region by providing for wide sandy beaches and attracting visitor dollars.
“There is funding in the act for these types of projects, but none of it is specifically allocated for ours, Zito added.” Our next step is to complete the final design documents, for which we already have the state funding available,” As that is ongoing we will also begin to pursue funding for the actual construction phase, both at the federal level and at the state level.”
Zito was in Washington, D.C., prior to the congressional votes.
“I met with representative Issa as well as staff from both Senator (Barbara) Boxer’s and Senator (Dianne) Feinstein’s offices,” he said. “We are fortunate to have strong support from all of our representatives for this project, which allows us to keep moving it forward.”
The House passed the bill 360-61 on Dec. 8. Two days later it received Senate approval 78-21. Boxer, who co-authored the bill, voted against it because of added language she said would negatively affect salmon and delta smelt.
The WIIN Act allows hundreds of water projects nationwide to move forward.
This story has been corrected since its original posting.