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Climate and Environment

Federal Funding Will Help Replenish Sand On OC Beaches

A very crowded beach during the day. People are in the water and on the sand.
Huntington Beach on June 14, 2020.
(Apu Gomez
AFP via Getty Images)
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Significant sand erosion in some Orange County coastal towns has vexed the area for decades — the result of jetties and breakwaters put in place years ago in an effort to protect the coastline.

This week local leaders celebrated more than $15 million in federal funds secured earlier this year to address the longstanding issue.

John Kriss, the president of the Surfside Storm Water Protection District, said the beaches have been eroding since the 1940s when the structures were built for projects such as the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. The goal then was to protect coastal areas from potentially dangerous ocean movement.

But he said that decision created other problems.

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"Because they did that, the beaches in Southern California are no longer able to reproduce themselves; the sand can't get to the beaches," Kriss said.

The jetties and breakwaters have caused nearby beaches to lose approximately 350,000 cubic yards of sand every year, according to Kriss.

The request federal funding to counteract erosion was spearheaded by Rep. Michelle Steel, who represents California's 48th District in the Congress. [Note: Steel, a Republican, is facing Democrat Jay Chen this November in what is expected to be a tight race for the 45th Congressional District.]

The Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project will help replenish nearly two million cubic yards of sand, starting at Seal Beach's Surfside Colony.

“The sand replenishment project is more than just preserving coastal space for recreation, it is important in preventing flooding and other infrastructure damages caused by eroded shorelines,” said OC Supervisor Andrew Do in a statement.

Work on the project is expected to start in 2024. It's not the first time efforts have been made to replenish sands on those beaches due to erosion.

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