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    Trucks of sand start arriving today to build up beaches at San Clemente and Capistrano Beach
    • July 8, 2024

    Truckloads of sand will be heading to two south Orange County beaches starting Monday, July 8, as officials try to salvage sand-starved shores at Capistrano Beach in Dana Point and North Beach in San Clemente.

    The county’s southernmost coastal town will get an estimated 50,000 cubic yards of sand at North Beach, an area in San Clemente that has long suffered from coastal erosion – now, at high tide little or no sand space is left for beachgoers.

    At Capistrano Beach, another 20,000 cubic yards is planned, following a similar replenishment project that brought double that amount last summer to the beach, which had also been battered by a series of strong swells in recent years.

    Capistrano Beach after an infusion of sand in Dana Point, CA, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Another similar project will bring more sand to the troubled beach from the Santa Ana River starting July 8, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The sand is from a surplus stuck upstream in the Santa Ana River, natural debris that flows down the waterway but needs to be removed due to flooding concerns.

    In previous years, the sand supply had been taken to landfills, but rather than let it go to waste, county officials worked to find ways to use the sand for area beaches in need.

    Coastal erosion is an issue plaguing many beach towns across California, due to a number of factors including the concreting of channels, development and droughts that lock sand in place, rather than allowing it to naturally flow down stream to the coast. At the same time, big swells and high tides chomp away at beaches  – a problem that experts worry could worsen as climate change intensifies.

    Replenishment projects are just one way authorities are trying to manage the coastline to keep the beaches intact – important not just for recreation but also a tourism and economic driver and protection for infrastructure.

    San Clemente is also exploring various “sand retention” structures, studying ways to not just infuse sand onto the beach, but keep it in place using jetties or artificial offshore structures. There’s also been talk of a tax to help fund such beach-saving efforts. 

    A recent project in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers added 140,000 cubic square yards of sand to the pier area, mostly filling in from the south side of the pier to T-Street. The project is only halfway complete and is expected to resume later this year.

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    That project, however, doesn’t cover the northern end of town, where there’s so little sand a restroom building is at risk and lifeguards are unable to reach the area by foot, if needed, with a pedestrian bridge still closed due to a landslide last year.

    The North Beach area that will be targeted with the new sand being trucked in starting Monday covers a portion of shoreline that is in the Orange County Transportation Authority’s area of concern because train tracks run oceanfront there. The agency is also proposing plans to add rocks and sand in its efforts to protect the rail line that has been closed multiple times the last couple of years because of damage and landslides.

    The new sand comes following city officials declaring an emergency to get through permitting quickly, expected to cost an estimated $2 million.

    “If you’ve been to North Beach lately, you will see that the beach is in pretty dire straits,” said Leslea Meyerhoff, the city’s coastal administrator, at that meeting last month.

    Each truck will hold about 10 cubic yards, with about 40 loads transported a day, she said. The sand will be spread out across 1,500 feet of beach, from North Beach to the access way at Dije Court.

    The goal is to “bolster the function of the sandy beach as a natural shoreline buffer to protect critical public infrastructure and existing structures,” city officials said in an announcement of the project. “North Beach is also a highly valued recreational amenity for the community and visitors.”

    Some access points to the beach will be closed Mondays through Thursdays during the project, opening back up for weekend crowds. Construction equipment will be staged in the parking lot at North Beach.

    For Capistrano Beach, the trucks will follow the same method used last year, with truckloads bringing the sand from the Santa Ana River to the parking lot to fill in eroded areas there and at Doheny State Beach. That project is expected to go through Aug. 30.

    Plans are still underway to create a “living shoreline” in the area to help keep the sand in place, though the county is awaiting grant funding to move forward.

    ​ Orange County Register 

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