San Elijo Lagoon Dredging & Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Repairs Project

Over the past few weeks, the Nature Collective, California State Parks, and the City of Encinitas collaborated to complete the annual San Elijo Lagoon dredging, which included approximately two weeks of work. Utilizing conventional construction methods, including the use of excavators, front end loaders and rock trucks to aid in dredging the inlet to the lagoon, the sand sediment was hauled and placed at the southern end of the Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline project site, and within the intertidal zone in front of the restaurant revetment area near Pacific Coast Grill and Chart House.

Dredging Photos of San Elijo Lagoon 2023.This year’s recent winter storms included king tides, high-surf and the abundance of weather and rain that impacted our coastlines. Winter storm damage included the loss of much of the City’s coastal sand including along the Cardiff Living Shoreline. Sand fill sediment was needed in this area to rebuild the sacrificial toe section of the dune system.   

Picture of king tides and high surf funneling through the accessway during winter of 2023.

Pictures of the damaged dune after winter storms 2023.This year’s San Elijo Lagoon dredging effort was well communicated and coordinated between all agencies involved.  The agencies utilized traffic control on S. Coast Highway 101 to allow the rock trucks to pass on the roadway during the high tide events. Staff from State Parks and Recreation, State Parks Lifeguards, Nature Collective and the City of Encinitas, continually monitored the ongoing construction work to keep the public informed and out of harm’s way.

Safety precautions in place.An operation agreement is in place between the City of Encinitas, California State Parks and the Nature Collective that allows access to the Cardiff Living Shoreline project area for maintenance and repairs. Approximately 13,000 cubic yards of sand sediment was used in this dredging event to reconstruct the toe of the dune that was sacrificed and lost to the ocean this past winter. In the four years since the project was built, this adaptation measure has been triggered twice. Once in the winter of 2021, in which the cobble berm was exposed, and now in the winter of 2023.

Reconstruction of the toe of the dune 2023.With the operating and maintenance agreement in place, a successful repair to the Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project was once again realized through the annual dredging effort of the inlet of the San Elijo Lagoon. Repair sediment fill was added to the dune escarpment and precise sculping and contouring by an excavator shovel occurred along the entire linear length, to create a smooth dune toe matching flush to the existing dune crest. 

Completed dune restoration looking south, Spring 2023.

Completed dune restoration looking north, Spring 2023.

Completed restoration project, accessways, and Mobi-mat installation in Spring of 2023.Having a local sand source such as the San Elijo Lagoon inlet available to the Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline Project provides the symbiotic relationship necessary to continually supply sand for repair needs from storm damage to this stretch of beach.