San Diego

Smelly, Murky Water Tied to Lagoon Project

The water and sand being pumped out as part of the dredging process are safe, according to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

Many surfers from Solana Beach to Cardiff are worried about their health now that a cleanup project in the area is underway.

"I can't even really see my board in a foot of water,” surfer Christian Alvarado said. “And it's been smelling a little bit 'sewer-ish.'"

Cardiff State Beach is just one of the areas where you'll see construction crews moving sand around as part of a $120 million restoration project for the San Elijo Lagoon.

The plan is to remove nutrients which built up over time as a result of untreated sewage dumped decades ago.

The water and sand being pumped out of this pipe as part of the dredging process are safe, according to Doug Gibson, executive director of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy.

They've tested the lagoon water and are also testing the ocean water weekly and the contaminant levels are said to be below modern standards for public health.

Gibson said the murky water is the result of some silts and clays being dredged up with the sand not sewage.

“We're building a very wide beach here that people will use for years,” Gibson said.

Some of the sand being removed from the Lagoon will widen certain beaches in the area by as much as 300 feet.

While he hasn’t heard complaints about a sewage smell, he said the dredging portion of the project is temporary.

“It's going to take us through the end of May to finish this project up on this side,” he said. “So that's a pretty small impact from February to May to have years of benefit of sand on our beaches."

While the portion of the restoration project impacting nearby beaches should be complete by summer, the work to the actual lagoon will continue for many years.

The project, which is part of the first phase of the North Coast Corridor Program, broke ground in November and should be done in early 2021.

Residents can stay connected to the progress of the project through the SANDAG website Keep San Diego Moving.

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