VIA – UT SAN DIEGO
Cameras deployed to track surf changes
A regional beach sand replenishment project scheduled to start by summer 2012 will be similar to the first large-scale effort on local beaches in 2001. Dan Trevan/Union-Tribune
noon, Jan. 28, 2012
San Diego Surfrider is deploying high-tech tools to look for altered waves along the county’s coastline linked to a $23 million beach sand replenishment project.
This summer, the San Diego Association of Governments plans to bolster some of the region’s most popular seaside spots from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. The project will redistribute up to 2 million cubic yards of sand from “borrow sites” offshore. Work is expected to benefit millions of beachgoers by covering rocks and maintaining wide swathes of sand that draw sun lovers from far and wide.
But it also could change the way the ocean breaks onto the beaches. While most visitors may not notice, surfers can detect seemingly minor differences in wave size and shape.
“We might see changes for the better. We might see changes for the worse,” said Julia Chunn-Heer, campaign coordinator for the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
The uncertainty prompted the nonprofit group seek a wave-monitoring provision in the Coastal Commission permit for sand replenishment. Surfrider members got what they wanted, but no SANDAG money to make it happen. Between a county grant and its own donations, Surfrider is spending what Chunn-Heer would only describe as “tens of thousands of dollars” on the project.
At the Coastal Commission, Eric Stevens said the project may not be the first to use cameras for tracking the effects of replenishment but the practice isn’t common.
“We’re happy to see it,” he said, noting conflicting reports about changes to the surf after a similar project in 2001. “Some people said the waves were better and some said the waves were worse. It will be nice to have a more scientific view.”
Historically, sand and sediment washed down through coastal watersheds and were deposited by streams and rivers on the shoreline. Dams and other types of development interrupted the flow, creating a perennial shortage of sand on beaches and demand for public works projects that support tourism.
Surfrider’s video monitoring will done by high-end cameras secured to lifeguard towers and other structures along the coast. They are expected to be in place within the next few weeks. That would give Surfrider a few months to establish baseline conditions at six targeted spots: 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 at D Street in Encinitas, and Tamarack Beach in Carlsbad.
The footage will be analyzed by CoastalCOMS, a company that specializes in video-based monitoring. The plan is to create a long-term video archive, assess changes in beach width and shoreline position, and track any changes in surf quality and “surfability.”
Surfrider will maintain surfer counts and …
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