Rep. Steel Secures $15.5 Million for Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project
Huntington Beach, CA – Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) today announced that her direct funding request language for the Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project was included in the Energy and Water Development and Related Agency Funding Bill for the upcoming fiscal year. With the support of Orange County leaders and project stakeholders, Rep. Steel submitted the funding request and engaged with Appropriations Committee leaders to emphasize the importance of the local project. The legislation will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.
“The federal government took responsibility for sand erosion in this area more than half a century ago, but for the past decade has failed to act to keep our beach communities safe. I’ve worked with local stakeholders for nearly a decade to ensure our beaches are healthy and our residents are protected. This is an exciting first step. We’ll continue to work together to get this project done,” said Rep. Steel.
“Our beaches are the bedrock of our community,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley. “Sand replenishment will protect our residents and help our tourism economy. I am grateful for Congresswoman Steel’s leadership in securing funding for this long overdue project.”
“The City appreciates the extraordinary efforts led by Representative Steel in collaboration with several other public agencies. We are very excited to learn that we are significantly closer to funding sand nourishment at Surfside. It has been over a decade since sand was replenished in Surfside and it is great to hear that the federal government is finally taking steps to mitigate this long-standing issue which will have a positive effect on some 17 miles of California’s coastline,” said Seal Beach Mayor Joe Kalmick.
“We appreciate that Congresswoman Steel has championed this important coastal project and given it much-needed momentum. This project is long awaited and vitally important for preserving Orange County’s beaches,” said Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery.
“Newport Beach and our neighboring coastal cities have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers for many years on projects that protect and maintain Orange County’s beaches. We are excited and grateful that the Surfside-Sunset replenishment project, which includes Newport Beach, has passed another significant hurdle and we remain optimistic that it will soon come to fruition,” said Newport Beach Council Member Diane Dixon.
“The impacts of erosion along our coastlines is not simply a beach issue. It’s a community wide issue,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. “It affects our natural habitats, local businesses, residents, visitors and has a significant impact on our infrastructure. This is an issue that deserves an immediate response, and we’re incredibly appreciative of Representative Steel’s support in our mission to replenish our beautiful coastline and keep our community safe.”
"The beaches of Orange County have been slowly eroding for decades. Many in the media and in politics have incorrectly posited the cause to be "global warming" and the accompanying rising sea levels. Representative Steel has recognized that the cause of the problem has been the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abandonment of its responsibilities and argued for immediate federal funding to provide temporary relief until a permanent funding solution can be provided," said Surfside Storm Water Protection District President John Kriss.
The erosion on Orange County’s beaches can be traced back to federal projects in the 1940s. The federal government widened Anaheim Bay and constructed breakwaters and jetties to service the new military bases that opened to boost military efforts for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The USACE also created flood control projects along three local rivers, and breakwaters were constructed to create and protect the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor. This new construction created narrowed beaches up and down the coastline that were now susceptible to extreme erosion.
The USACE and the federal government, realizing the damage that had been caused, took steps to repair the issue. The project was referred to as the “San Gabriel to Newport Bay Beach Renourishment Project (Surfside-Sunset),” and today it’s the Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project (Stage 13). The repair project, done in increments, began with in 1964 and saw eight more project stages through 1990. The project had a continued partnership between the federal government, which provided 67% of the financing, and local communities, which provided the remaining 33%. The local cost share was always covered when it was time for a new project stage.
Then in 1995, after planning Stage 10, the USACE abandoned their responsibilities to Orange County. In 2000, the USACE stated that it was no longer budgeting for any future stages in Orange County. This left the communities on the hook for the high costs and left the coast at a high risk for flooding and major storm damage.
For information on the FY2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, click here.
To read more about Representative Steel’s work on this project, click here.