Orange County's eroding beaches getting much-needed sand replenishment

Sand out of a San Diego barrowing site will be brought in as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project.
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- Sand is coming to parts of the Orange County coastline after years of erosion have thinned out beaches in the area.

The weathering has created problems along train tracks in San Clemente and flooding during high tides. Many recreating in Orange County beaches, like surfer Aaron Bernstein, and locals, like Joe Zak, have noticed changes.

"I actually noticed that. I like picked it up, how like the beach is getting smaller," Bernstein said.

"Down by Surfside at the end, that erodes in every three to five years," Zak said.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed a budget bill allowing for two construction projects led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Surfside, Sunset, Newport and San Clemente shorelines. Sand out of a San Diego barrowing site will be brought in.

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"In this case, beach-compatible sand, and what we'll do is we'll pump that up onto the shoreline, and then from there, on the shoreline, what we'll have is we'll have heavy equipment creating the profile to essentially re-nourish the beach and bring the beach back to a useful beach," said Dolan Cheung with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In South County, a 50-foot wide, $9.3 million nourishment project will cover more than 3,400 feet. The sand will be brought in just south of the San Clemente pier.

The $15.5 million project further north is set to go 17 miles from the mouth of the San Gabriel River down to the Newport Bay Harbor entrance.

"They provide a buffer between the storm waves. They reduce flooding in the back bay or back shore and impact to infrastructure. All of our projects also look at the economic benefit," explained Susie Ming with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On Thursday, some who enjoy the sand and water said they were excited to hear what's coming.

"I appreciate the sandy area. I'm not a big fan of the water," Felicity Garant said after spending time relaxing on the sand at Sunset Beach.

"We have to save our beaches and we have to do anything to keep the sand here," Bernstein said.

Construction on the projects is scheduled to start in the fall of 2023.

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