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Newport's hot commodity: sand

Landscape constantly shifts at the water's edge, but work on Marina Park will allow dredging and redistribution of the grainy material.

April 15, 2014|By Emily Foxhall | By Emily Foxhall
  • Sand has been eroding from China Cove at an alarming rate.
Sand has been eroding from China Cove at an alarming rate. (Don Leach, Daily…)

While some Newport Beach residents eagerly await the opening of Marina Park in two years, others already have cause for celebration.

They've been promised some of the location's sand.

To make way for the 23-slip marina planned for the new Balboa Peninsula park, crews will soon dredge more than 40,000 cubic yards of material from the harbor and redistribute it throughout the city's shoreline.

It's a perfect source for reusable beach material — a highly sought-after commodity for beach dwellers who experience, quite literally, life's shifting sands. As seasons pass, their beaches change, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking.

High on the list of recipients in the coming months is China Cove, a Corona del Mar community that faces the entrance channel leading into Newport Harbor.

The community will receive 5,000 cubic yards of the grainy material, city staff said.

Portions will also be distributed in front of the lifeguard headquarters by the Newport Pier and at Marina Park itself.

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The rest will be dumped in the ocean to make its way onto the beaches more slowly, a sort of "pre-loading," Public Works Director Dave Webb said.

"It's the nature of sand," Webb explained. "People think it's a static thing, but it's not. It's dynamic. It's moving all the time. It's constant maintenance."

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Be it tides, wind or storms, a number of forces influence sand's flow.

At China Cove, resident Warren James said the sand tends to travel north, moving from the smaller of the two beaches toward the larger.

As it continues north along the shore, the sand periodically fills up the bottom of a marina at a neighboring condo complex, Channel Reef. The marina has been be dredged periodically and the sand placed back on the beach.

"The beach would go up, and it would go down," James said rhythmically. "It would go up, and it would go down."

But about five years ago, 7,000 cubic yards of sand were trucked away by the city, throwing off the delicate balance, James said. (Webb disputes this assertion.)

Whereas James once played baseball on dry sand with his son, now 34, the shore outside his home is wet most of the time, the longtime resident explained. The height of the beach has lowered noticeably.

"I've raised hell with the city," he said. "You guys hauled all the sand away. You've caused all the problems. We want sand."

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