Sand Project set to Replenish San Clemente Beaches Starting December

The City of San Clemente is warming up to begin the San Clemente Shoreline Sand Replenishment Project to reduce erosion, add new beach areas, and implement future efforts to preserve the sand.

The San Clemente Shoreline Sand Replenishment Project will begin next month by placing a pipeline near the San Clements Pier. A dredge will connect to the pipeline to deliver sand onto San Clemente beaches. This pre-construction action will involve waterside and landside mobilization of vehicles to get the pipeline situated. The beach and water are temporarily closed near the dredge pipeline from the Pier to Lifeguard Tower 1 to maximize public safety. Signs concerning the temporary beach and water closure have been posted to ensure people keep clear of the dredge pipeline. The first sand deliveries are expected to arrive in mid-December.

The City of San Clemente, in collaboration with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), a federal agency under the Department of Defense with a primary mission of providing engineering services and support to the nation, and California State Parks are restoring the main public beach in San Clemente. The project is intended to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Reduce coastal storm damage to property and infrastructure along the study area shoreline and the bluff top before emergency action.
  • Improve public safety in the study area by reducing the threat of life-threatening bluff failures caused by wave action against the beach and bluff base.
  • Reduce coastal erosion and shoreline narrowing to improve recreational opportunities for beach users.

The City began to add 51,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach in late November, starting about 1,800 feet south of the City’s municipal pier and moving straight 1,800 feet north of the pier. The sand for the beach is being recovered from an offshore sand deposit south of San Clemente and will be brought through a dredge that will connect to a pipeline onshore. Sand will be pumped as a slushy mix of seawater and sand and will be spread out on the shore to create a 50-foot-wide new beach area. The project will be repeated every 5-6 years, roughly over the next 50 years, for a total sand volume of 2 million cubic yards.

The total construction cost for this project is $14.3 million. It is funded 65% by the federal government (roughly $9.3 million) and 35% by the City of San Clemente ( roughly $5 million) with the assistance of California State Parks. The city has been awarded a $3.4 million grant from the California Department of Boating and Waterways for the construction project.

This beach nourishment project was developed to widen the beach, reduce beach erosion, and restore the natural protective buffer between essential infrastructures and the ocean while simultaneously increasing the recreational area along the shoreline for beachgoers.

According to the City of San Clemente, over many decades, upland land development for purposes of water supply storage, flood control, and other infrastructure benefits has resulted in the rivers and creeks being dammed such that the normal supplies of sand that have historically reached the beach have been largely cut off and are prevented from reaching the coast. Beach nourishment reintroduces natural sediment into the natural sediment cycle, reestablishing wide protective beaches for residents and visitors and enhancing sandy beach habitat for birds, fish, and other coastal wildlife.

To keep the sand in place and make it last longer, the city is currently enforcing a counterpart effort called the “nature-based coastal resiliency feasibility study,” which is assessing different compromises to keep the new sand in place for as long as possible and to facilitate future costs of beach nourishment. This study is underway, and a draft feasibility study will be prepared in 2024.

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