Port Hueneme to spend $2 million to fight beach erosion
Port Hueneme has asked the federal government for emergency help to replenish beaches with sand before the rapidly eroding shoreline undermines roads and floods property, including harbor facilities.
City officials also fear that conditions could eventually damage the nearby Ormond Beach wetlands, the site of environmental restoration efforts supported by local and state agencies.
Since January, high winds, abnormally high tides and large waves along the Ventura County coast have washed away most of the sand that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges and places on Port Hueneme’s beach every two years. Those deposits usually amount to about 1 million cubic yards of sand per two-year cycle. But federal budget restraints and rising costs of fuel and equipment cut the previous delivery to 400,000 cubic yards.
City officials aren’t optimistic about getting more sand soon, said Greg Brown, Port Hueneme’s community development director. “So it looks like we’re going to have to take care of ourselves.”
For now, the city plans to try to curtail the damage by spending about $2 million of municipal funds on boulders to protect the most eroded stretches of coastline.
Construction of the city’s deep water port and its jetties in 1939 sharply altered the downcoast flow of sand along the city’s beaches, resulting in erosion and damage to public and private property as well as the port, which is shared by the U.S. Navy and Oxnard Harbor District.
In 1954, Congress authorized the corps to construct a sand trap nearby and undertake biennial dredging of the sand to maintain the shoreline and protect the port.
“Ironically, there’s plenty of sand in the sand trap,” Brown said. “The problem is finding federal funds to move it over here.”
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park) is supporting the push for emergency funding. But Jay Field, a spokesman for the corps, said the agency has no money for additional dredging.
Port Hueneme, the only deep-water commercial harbor between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay, was dependent on the Navy for most of its business until 1984.Today, Hueneme is a niche port, relying mostly on imports of automobiles and produce.
The city is scheduled to receive its next load of sand from the corps in late 2014. So for now, Brown said, “We’re praying for a mild winter.”
With waves lapping against seaside streets, the city of 21,000 people has canceled a sand sculpture contest scheduled for August.
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