Friday, December 20, 2013

Beach erosion and federal funding

Our coastal neighbor, Port Hueneme, has been in the news a lot this year due to beach erosion which is threatening streets and infrastructure built along the shoreline.  Over the summer the city began reinforcing the seawall that protects the road, but didn't have money to complete the project.  The California Coastal Conservancy recently approved $2M for additional construction. The aerial photo below shows the extension of the rocks along the beach toward the pier.

The aerial photos below from show the loss of sand from 2010 to 2013:

This dramatic erosion is the direct result of federal budget cuts which eliminated funding for the required biannual harbor dredging.   Harbor jetties block the constant movement of sand down the coast, so  regular dredging is required to keep the harbor mouth open and bypass sand.  Hueneme beach is entirely dependent on sand that is dredged from Channel Islands harbor.

This aerial overview shows the sand that has collected in the trap created by the offshore breakwater at Channel Islands harbor. If this maintenance is not completed beaches "downstream" are starved of sand and rapidly disappear.

Ventura Harbor has been suffering the same problem.  This photo was taken while the dredge was operating in February 2013.

These photos show how much sand has built up in the Ventura Harbor sand trap.

aerial overview of Ventura Harbor shows sand buildup between north jetty and breakwater 

After nearly a year of meetings and conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers the Ventura Harbor received $2.5 million of the $5.9 million it needs to dredge. That money only paid for about 235,000 cubic yards in 2013, or less than half the 600,000 cubic yards sand required annually to keep sand moving down the coast.

The budget crisis prompted the Ventura Port District to consider an offer to sell sand to Broad Beach in Malibu, a beach that eroded in response to removal of natural sand dunes.  But BEACON director Brian Brennan said "The erosion agency isn’t about to just hand over the Ventura Harbor sand, because it is vital to protecting properties on coastlines in Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Those beaches need to be replenished with sand annually." (see Ventura Harbor's excess sand may be treasure for Malibu residents)

According to a recent Port Commission newsletter, Ventura Harbor anticipates about $3.7 million in federal funding, enough to dredge up to 400,000 cubic yards in February or March.  Because this is still partial funding it will result in accumulation of another 200,000 yards to the ongoing buildup in the sand trap and downcoast deficit.

This article in the VCStar sums it up:

The problem is Congress has not allocated enough money to replenish the badly eroded beach with more sand, something the U.S. government is obligated to do.
That obligation was made decades ago when the Port of Hueneme was built. The port project interrupted the normal flow of sand down the coast that had replenished not only Hueneme Beach but many other local beaches as sand washed away.
Hueneme Beach is supposed to be replenished with sand every two years through dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The sand is taken from a sand trap located at the mouth of Channel Islands Harbor.
In the most recent dredging, the corps was unable to pump the 2.5 million cubic yards of sand required by the beaches because of what federal officials called budget restraints.
Port Hueneme Mayor Ellis Green said...Port Hueneme’s lack of sand “is a man-made problem,” 
“The solution to this problem is simple,” he said. “The federal government needs to fulfill its obligation and pump the sand that is now in the sand trap to our beaches.”
More on this blog:

In the News:

Port Hueneme faces erosion threat from sand shortage
Sunday, February 3, 2013

Port Hueneme plans to lobby Congress for more sand

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ventura Harbor's excess sand may be treasure for Malibu residents

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Obama budget includes money for Ventura Harbor dredging

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Port Hueneme officials seek help restoring beach

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Port Hueneme to take emergency measures to protect shoreline

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Port Hueneme beach erosion could cost city taxpayers millions of dollars

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Port Hueneme council moves forward on beach erosion effort

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crew to put boulders at Hueneme Beach to ward off erosion

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rep. Julia Brownley: Budget dysfunction washes beach out to sea

Saturday, July 20, 2013

John K. Flynn: County should take the lead in abating beach erosion

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Senate panel supports $2 million to fix Port Hueneme's 'dire' beach emergency

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Julia Brownley: In our time of need, a bipartisan call to action

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Port Hueneme Pier appears safe from erosion — for now

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brownley attaches amendments to water bill to help Port Hueneme

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Port Hueneme receives gift of sand from Swedish family
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

High tides during solar eclipse erode more sand in Port Hueneme

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Port Hueneme beach erosion slows

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BMW signs multimillion-dollar deal with Port of Hueneme
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Port Hueneme waiting for $2 million to build sea wall to combat erosion

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | Updated Tuesday, December 3, 2013