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Santa Barbara - South County

Sand berms going up along Santa Barbara waterfront to protect shoreline from winter storms

Sand Berm
John Palminteri/KEYT
The annual Santa Barbara sand berm project is underway for winter protection. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Heavy equipment unloaded at dawn along Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara to begin work on the sand berms along the shoreline.

This is an annual project the Waterfront Department completes before strong winter rains, often with ocean surges and King tides, arrive.

The first phase will involve a wall of sand east of Stearns Wharf. That project should be completed by Wednesday.

It will be followed by a sand berm in front of the Yacht Club west of the breakwater wall on Leadbetter Beach.

The city says these soft structures are more acceptable to regulatory commissions as a seasonal protection for the area.

Down the coast, Carpinteria also builds a sand berm to protect beach front properties.

A Santa Barbara city report says:

1. Leadbetter Beach Berm

This berm extends from the breakwater westerly towards the Harbor West parking lot. The berm provides protection for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, its parking lot, and storage facilities. The berm also provides protection for the Harbor Marine Works boatyard, and the Waterfront’s Maintenance yard. Erosion, or overtopping of the berm, has resulted in flooding of Harbor Way and the harbor commercial area. In general, this berm has provided consistent protection from large waves and winter storms.

2. Mission Creek Berm

This berm is constructed along the east side of Stearns Wharf and extends along the south side of the Mission Creek lagoon. Flood flows from Mission Creek have historically flowed underneath Stearns Wharf scouring the base of the piles along the roadway. Excessive scouring could result in the piles failing and a section of the wharf collapsing. The berm diverts Mission Creek’s flows to the east facilitating the breach of the berm near the outlet of the Laguna Channel during storm flows.

Cushman Contracting Company began work on constructing this year’s sand berms on Wednesday. They typically spend one day constructing the Mission Creek Berm and two days constructing the Leadbetter Beach Berm.

The Waterfront Department also contracts with Storrer Environmental Services to conduct avian and environmental surveys prior to, and during, the construction of the beach berms.

Environment / Safety / Weather News

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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