Letter to the Editor: Newport Beach Should Get Going on Channel Dredging

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Through the productive efforts of members of the City Council and city staff, the city has a commitment of over $16 million from the Army Corp. of Engineers for a harbor dredging project.

This grant will cover approximately 80 percent of the cost of the proposed project. This project is important to the harbor. It will return much of the harbor to its original design depth, siltation having reduced these depths over time.

Disposal of the dredged material is a problem, as the main channel dredging will expose some sediment that is deemed unsuitable for ocean disposal. Through extensive study by the City’s engineers, the proposed solution is to dispose of the material in a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) site. This means digging a big, deep hole somewhere in the bay, depositing the dredged material in the bottom of the hole and covering it up with clean material. This is not new technology. CAD’s have been used successfully in a number of locations in the US.

The City has gone forward with this plan, has obtained all necessary approvals and has certified the Environmental Impact Report. In other words, we should be ready to go.

But not so fast.

A handful of residents have convinced the City Council that further study is needed of a project that has already been studied to death. The problem seems to be that some residents living close to the proposed disposal site are basically saying “Not in my backyard,” as if there is some potential hazard to having the site nearby.

The location of the site, off the east end of Lido Isla, was chosen so as to minimize disruption of harbor boat traffic and other activity.

I am fortunate to live on the bay front on Balboa Island. I would welcome the disposal site in front of my house. I think it is fun to watch big dredging equipment at work and I’m not the least bit worried about tiny amounts of “unsuitable” material in the bottom of a hole.

But this is not to be, since I live on the busiest channel in the harbor.

My parting shot is that the city should get on with it and take advantage of the grant money. If the project is completed as planned, we will have deeper channels and a filled-in hole we can all forget about.

Seymour Beek, former Chairman of the Newport Beach Harbor Commission

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