The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to dredge the harbor at Marina del Rey, move clean sand to Redondo Beach and Dockweiler State Beach, and dump contaminated sediment at a fill site in the Port of Long Beach.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage the dredging project, designed to deepen the marina's north and south entrances.
Since 1999, when the entrance was last dredged, more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment from Ballona Creek and neighboring beaches have caused shoaling at the mouth of the harbor.
The Coast Guard, responsible for homeland security operations and search and rescue, only uses the south channel entrance to get in and out of the marina and avoid accidentally running aground at the shallower, north entrance.
Clean dredged sand, which makes up about one-third of the sediment, will be used to replenish parts of Redondo Beach, which lost sand during storms in 2005, and Dockweiler State Beach. About 75,000 cubic yards of dredged sand will go to Redondo Beach, and 140,000 cubic yards will be dumped offshore of Dockweiler State Beach.
Contaminated dredged material, which could contain toxins related to runoff or heavy metals such as lead, mercury, copper and zinc, will be used as fill material at the Port of Los Angeles' Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project. Under federal law, the dirty material cannot be dumped at sea or on a beach—only at an approved offshore or inland facility.
"The Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project provides an opportunity to safely dispose of dredge materials, while creating much-needed land for a cargo terminal expansion that will support thousands of new jobs," said Richard Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach.
"This is a cost-effective reuse of contaminated sediments that otherwise would need to be hauled off by trucks to remote disposal sites," he said. "Regulatory and wildlife agencies have helped us to approve this sequestering of contaminated sediments in the most environmentally responsible way possible."
Supervisor Don Knabe said the port expansion would generate about 14,000 jobs. He estimated that using Long Beach's approved fill site would save more than $85 million and 42,000 truck trips that would have been required to dispose of the sediment at inland sites.
"This innovative agreement between federal and local agencies is a terrific example of government at all levels working together to solve regional issues,” Knabe said in a news release. "This partnership was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the timing is perfect—Marina del Rey needs to get rid of sediment and Long Beach needs sediment."
Regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Coastal Commission and Department of Fish and Game, as well as environmental groups like Heal the Bay, enthusiastically support the plan, said William Fujioka, the county's chief executive officer.
"The concerns about the least tern nesting season, the grunion spawning season and the brown pelican habitat have all been satisfactorily addressed by the city's project plan," Fujioka said, adding that the Corps of Engineers has secured all necessary regulatory permits.
The county will pay $5.3 million generated by vehicle license fees and set aside to replenish sand at Redondo Beach to fund its half of the project. The Corps of Engineers has agreed to spend $5.4 million, and Long Beach is expected to chip in funding to move an additional 100,000 cubic yards of material.
The funds identified will cover the cost of dredging and moving only about half of the sediment. The project is expected to begin in January and to take about nine months to complete.
The only downside, Fujioka said, will be the inconvenience to boaters and residents during the dredging.
According to the news release from Knabe's office, officials expect the project to start in January and hope to complete it by September 2012.
City News Service contributed to this report.