Newport Beach to conduct sediment sampling for dredging permits

City must conduct testing to maintain RGP-54 program for another five years.

NEWPORT BEACH — The city of Newport Beach hired a firm, Sept. 12, to survey nearshore sediments as part of its unique dredging program. The environmental study is required every five years in order for the city to keep its Regional General Permit-54, or RGP-54, valid.

Newport Beach was the first city in the country authorized to issue federal dredging permits on its own accord. The RGP-54 permits are issued to residential and commercial pier operators.

The city’s current permitting expires July 2018.

Anchor QEA LLC will perform the sediment analysis, according to a city staff report. The professional service contract was approved by Newport Beach’s City Council, Sept. 12. All nearshore sediment within Newport Beach Harbor must be studied every five years to keep the RGP-54 process active.

Residential and commercial property owners who maintain piers or marinas were recently permitted to apply for small dredging projects through Newport Beach – as opposed to applying for such projects through federal agencies.

“As a condition of this permit, the city commits to a full harbor-wide nearshore sediment testing program every five years to ensure the sediment is clean and suitable for either beach or open ocean disposal,” city staff stated in a report to City Council members. “The proposed work involves sampling from a vessel at 54 previously approved locations over 10 days using vibracore equipment, and includes a single reference sediment sample site in the ocean.”

Previous sampling did not raise any red flags in tested sediment, so Newport Beach city staff does not expect anything to change with current testing, according to the City Council report.

City officials would prepare an analysis report with complete results and submit it to a group of state and federal regulatory agencies. Each of the agencies would have to approve the results and acknowledge conditions have not changed significantly enough as to revoke Newport Beach’s RGP-54 program.

A city request to extend the sampling interval to a longer period (prior to the City Council’s Sept. 12 action) was reportedly denied.

Anchor QEA was selected through the city’s Request for Proposals process. The company was chosen “because of [its] previous sediment testing knowledge for the same program in 2013, [its] intimate familiarity of the permit details and nuances that were negotiated during the entitlement process,” city staff stated in its report to the City Council.

Another factor in the city’s decision to hire Anchor QEA was the firm’s ability “to react immediately before the rainy season this fall [as] turbidity from rainfall affects sampling accuracy.”

The study’s approved budget is capped at $280,305.

Newport Beach was granted primary responsibility to manage small dredging projects in 2015. The RGP-54 program allows residential and commercial property owners with marinas or piers to dredge up to 8,000 cubic yards per event (and up to 75,000 cubic yards per year) under and around existing docks.

Parimal M. Rohit photo

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