By Andrea Papagianis and Jim Shilander
Beaches in south Orange County moved one step closer to a large-scale replenishment project this week after President Barack Obama penned his signature on a bipartisan federal bill to fund critical flood protection, ecosystem restoration and commerce port maintenance projects.
Cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) the Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014 successfully moved through the nation’s legislative bodies in a 412-4 congressional vote and a 91-7 Senate vote last month. Obama gave the final approval Tuesday, June 10.
“The president has signed into law a strong, bipartisan bill which invests in vital water infrastructure that protects communities in California and across the nation from flooding … and boosts our economy by creating jobs,” Boxer wrote in a statement.
The bill includes $1 billion to strengthen National Basin levees near Sacramento and $734 million for flood control measures in the Sutter River and San Joaquin River basins. It could also provide funding for an initial beach replenishment project in San Clemente.
The project would add 50 feet of beach from Linda Lane south to T Street Beach. Costs are estimated at $11 million, with $7 million coming from the federal government.
The project was reviewed and recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers. Under the bill, San Clemente is eligible for $51 million in federal funding for the project, but state and local officials must match the funds to pay for the project’s $99 million cost over 50 years.
Even with the president’s signature, there is no certainty a project will come in the near future, said Tom Bonigut, San Clemente’s assistant city engineer. However, with the OK, the city and Army Corps can begin project design work and look at funding options.