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San Diego Surfrider Chapter to Monitor Costly Beach Sand Fill Projects


DATE 1/19/2012

San Diego Surfrider Chapter to Monitor Costly Beach Sand Fill Projects

San Diego, California – This month’s remarkable wintertime surf is a reminder San Diego County is an all-season beachgoer’s paradise, and the volume and quality of surf received on our shores is not only a bounty to local surfers and beach fans, but a significant economic asset.

In order to maintain the stability of area beaches, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), under the supervision of the California Coastal Commission, will occasionally embark on “beach fill” projects, in which sand is dredged from areas offshore and added to beaches facing long-term erosion, due to the cutoff of much of San Diego’s natural sand sources by development. The next planned beach fill project, called the Regional Beach Sand Project II (RBSP II), will be getting underway in April.

To ensure the surfing qualities near sand “receiver” sites are maintained, and to provide an assessment of the response of surf spots to the influx of new sand from RBSP II, Surfrider San Diego is inaugurating a new, video-based Surf Monitoring Program.

Utilizing technology provided by CoastalCOMS, a company which specializes in video-based coastal monitoring, this new Surfrider program will establish a baseline for surf quality at six San Diego County beaches where RBSP II beach fills are to occur, and will include daily observations of surf quality with the help of a newly-installed video monitoring system.

Cameras monitoring the RBSP II project will create a long-term video archive, assess changes in beach width and shoreline position, and track potential changes in surf quality and “surfability.” The beaches to be monitored, from south to north, are:

• Imperial Beach near the pier

• Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach

• Seaside Reef at the boundary of Solana Beach and Encinitas

• Cardiff Reef in Encinitas

• Moonlight Beach / D St. in Encinitas

• Tamarack in South Carlsbad

Surf quality parameters will be measured from live video monitoring using analytics designed to detect breaking wave face heights, break zone activity level, and wave locations. Trained volunteers will also utilize CoastalCOMS software to review video archives for an assessment of conditions at each surf spot.

“With this program, Surfrider hopes to replace the current anecdotal evidence regarding impacts to surfing resources with observations from a consistent framework of surf spot monitoring. While RBSP II was the initial motivation for this monitoring program, these cameras can be used to establish crucial information about our coast as it pertains to a number of projects as well as changes due to climate change,” said Julia Chunn-Heer, Campaign Coordinator for the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

“When society armors the bluffs, dams the rivers and creeks, and constructs large harbors which disrupt the natural sand supply, there are only a few options for keeping sand on the beach: stop the armoring and allow natural bluff retreat, or these expensive beach nourishment projects. Our chapter strongly advocates for managed retreat, but we realize these beach nourishment projects will be part of our future for now, so we are working with SANDAG to help ensure surfing resources are not negatively affected by the large influx of sand.”

For more on the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, including Surfrider’s Beach Preservation campaign, go to