Seacoast Residents Cite Possible Water Damage from Sand Project

Published Dec. 8, 2012 by Imperial Beach Patch.

Sand replenishment in eight areas along San Diego’s coastline came to a close this week, but residents in the first city to receive sand are complaining that the project has caused water to seep under their homes, into carports and through sidewalks.

“I’ve lived on this little piece of dirt for 25 years and that’s never happened, and I’ve been through huge storms when the water’s coming down the streets or over the rocks,” said Dave Recker, who lives near the corner of Seacoast Drive and Cortez Avenue.

“That’s just never ever, ever happened, so it’s just kind of created a big swimming pool, and that’s right where the problems are going underneath.”

Recker, his wife Stephanie, and their neighbors said water settled into an inlet a few feet deep on the beach near their homes last week after a strong swell and waves came to the region.

The knee-deep pond formed near their home last Saturday and extended along at least six property lines, they told Patch.

By Tuesday, water was coming out of the sidewalks, planters around the property and parking garage, they said.

The 2012 SANDAG Regional Sand Project started in Imperial Beach in August and came to a close in early October.

SANDAG crews may return to Imperial Beach next week to level the grade of sand along 3,000 feet of shoreline, said David Hicks with the planning agency.

Dave Recker says he thinks the inlet was caused by pipes that were on the beach to pump the sand to the shore. He’s an avid surfer and likes the new sand, but hopes water that may have gone below the foundation of his property has not caused any damage.

“I’m hoping they’re going to regrade that and fill that hole up ’cause there are at least five or six big winter storms every year and that one we had last week was just a medium swell,” he said.”If they don’t fix that, it’s going to get way worse.

“I think if they do a really good job of correcting it, there shouldn’t be a problem. I do appreciate the new sand down here. I don’t think they realize what happened.”

David Hicks with SANDAG said the uneven area in the sand was caused by high tides and wave action.

“In replenishing the beach with additional sand, one of our goals was to protect homes from winter storm surges like the ones we experienced recently,” Hicks said Friday via email. “The shallow ponding is usually temporary. The water eventually seeps back into the ocean and the ground.”

Monitoring of the area began in October, Hicks said, around when SANDAG began to receive complaints.

“We are now getting cost estimates for additional grading to fill in the lower areas next to the rocks and to slope the beach to minimize ponding against the rock wall that exists in front of the homes,” he said.

Mary Doyle lives next to the Reckers at 1356 Seacoast Dr. and said she first noticed pooling about a month ago.

“I’ve lived there six years through worse storms and high tides, and that’s never happened before,” she said. “It had nowhere to drain, and so gradually it’s been going under our homes and seeping under the sidewalks.”

Imperial Beach was just the first part of the sand replenishment project, Doyle said. If other beach towns can expect the same, they should know what’s coming.

Earlier this week, U-T San Diego reported that residents in the Encinitas area that received sand in October and November are concerned about pooling near the base of cliffs in the Leucadia area.

Back in IB, further south on Seacoast Drive, Robin Clegg said she first noticed the water was starting to pool Sept. 26. Clegg is the president of an HOA at Boca Rio Condos at the very southern tip of Seacoast Drive.

Clegg said sand was not made level near rocks outside her house and she first saw water seep through the cracks in her car port Sept. 26 before the project finished in IB and again in mid-October.

Last week was the worst yet, she said, and she’s concerned about future storms.

“We don’t know if we’re going to lose our pipes or if the rocks surrounding the building are sinking and so we have to change them sooner rather than later,” she said.
“We don’t know. We’re not the experts. They’re supposed to be.”

Since she sees small plants beginning to die, she’s now concerned about the salt saturation in the soil and its potential impact on palm trees and other aesthetic plant life at Boca Rios Condos.

A bulldozer to make the sand level again would likely solve the problem and be a “quick fix,” she said.

First, she said, SANDAG needs to recognize sand replenishment caused the problem.

“We’ve met them out on-site and pretty much a SANDAG project engineer told us the sand replenishment wasn’t causing a problem, which is a lie,” she said.

“One of our game plans now is we’re going to contact other homeowner associations because they may not realize the water running in the road and in their garages is from sand replenishment,” she said.

She hopes a collective effort will bring more attention for property owners and the beach south of her property, which she has started to call the “lagoon.”

Clegg said she is also concerned about the integrity of sidewalks and streets.

Imperial Beach Public Works Director Hank Levien said there may very well be some damage to streets and sidewalks on Seacoast Drive, but is not sure whether the impact of what is being experienced now can be measured compared to what the city and residents get during annual storm events.

“Those streets often are inundated with water and sands from storms and high water,” Levien said. “It appears to exacerbated or more extensive now because of the water that is caught between the sand and the home fronts.

“It’s not uncommon for water to seep up through sidewalks and those sort of things, but it usually only lasts as long as the high tide does.”

Water and street improvements don’t typically go well together, he said, “but we are in a beach community so we live with it.

“Asphalt is not made to have water under it, but that’s always been the condition.”

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