Hurricane Marie and Coastal Erosion and Flooding

Surf from Hurricane Marie, a Category 5 hurricane, hit Southern California like a bomb on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 26 and through Thursday August 28. While the focus of the swell was in Orange and LA Counties, beaches in Baja and San Diego County experienced large surf and coastal erosion as well.

Hurricane Marie--a monster storm.

Hurricane Marie–a monster storm.

The Eastern Pacific has seen a very intense and early Hurricane season this year. The reason is extremely warm water around Baja California and Mexico’s Pacific Coastline. You can see the elevated water temps in red in this excellent map below.

Areas with elevated water temps are in red.

Areas with elevated water temps are in red.

As the surf filled in on Wednesday the 27th coastal flooding occurred in Seal Beach and at Pt. Mugu State Beach in Los Angeles County. Homes were impacted in Seal Beach and a historic lifeguard station was destroyed at Pt. Mugu. There was also damage from high waves on Catalina Island.

From the LA Times:

The massive surf sent the historic Cove House training building crumbling to the shore at Point Mugu State Park. It washed away a 25-foot section of breakwater protecting the Anaheim Bay in Seal Beach. Pilings at the Malibu Pier were swept into the ocean, and cargo operations had to be temporarily halted at the Port of Long Beach on Wednesday.

On Catalina Island, the waves “essentially destroyed” White’s Landing Pier and another pier at Camp Fox, said Bob Reid, a spokesman for the Catalina Island Conservancy. The ocean was so clouded with debris and silt Thursday that one of the island’s famed glass-bottom boat tours became a sightseeing outing instead.

 

Surf damage on Catalina Islands.

Surf damage on Catalina Islands. Photo: LA Times.

Damage on Catalina. Photo: LA Times

Damage on Catalina. Photo: LA Times

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Damage on Catalina. Source LA Times

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The historic lifeguard headquarters at Pt. Mugu State Beach was destroyed by large waves and coastal flooding.

The historic lifeguard headquarters at Pt. Mugu State Beach was destroyed by large waves and coastal flooding. Photo: LA Times.

Flood damage in Seal Beach.

Flood damage in Seal Beach.

Flood damage in Seal Beach.

Flood damage in Seal Beach.

In Imperial Beach where I live the waves weren’t so large (the storm was focusing wave energy further north) but the strong surf and current resulted in significant coastal erosion. Here are images of the southern end of the beach where there was more erosion that at any time over the past two years.

Berm caused by coastal erosion on August 27, 2014 at the south end of Imperial beach looking northward.

Berm caused by coastal erosion on August 27, 2014 at the south end of Imperial beach looking northward.

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Erosion at the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach on August 28, 2014 looking southward toward the mouth of the Tijuana River. This area is a State of California Marine Protected Area as well as fronts the Tijuana Estuary NOAA/FWS Reserve.

Here is a photo of the surf in Imperial Beach by JC Monje that shows the strong swell and why the current and also sand is moving northward. Hurricane swells create a very long longshore current that takes sand from the southern part of the beach and transports it northward where it over time it can end up in Coronado.

Imperial Beach just as Hurricane Marie started hitting on the late afternoon of Tuesday August 26, 2014. Photo: JC Monje

Imperial Beach just as Hurricane Marie started hitting on the late afternoon of Tuesday August 26, 2014. Photo: JC Monje

Trash ,Tires and Sediment in the Tijuana River

If the multiplicity of agencies working along the U.S.-Mexico border from both the U.S. and Mexico did their job, there would be little trash, sediment and waste tires in the Tijuana River. Unfortunately most look the other way until they are pressured to clean things up. Now WILDCOAST is pressuring agencies to clean up the river before winter or more unusual summer rains happen.

A pedestrian bridge made from waste-tires in the Tijuana River in Tijuana.

A pedestrian bridge made from waste-tires in the Tijuana River in Tijuana.

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The Tijuana River in Tijuana just next to City Hall. There are thousands of “Zombies” or homeless men and women (mostly men) living in the river which authorities in Tijuana have shown little effort in dealing with (many were deported from the U.S.). Besides the social and crime problems as a result, the trash that is accumulating is awful. Many of the men wash in the sewage waters of the river. The minute it rains all of this will be washed downstream.

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More garbage and sediment in the Tijuana River just upstream from the international border line. This scene is repeated throughout the river and its watershed. One solution would be to hire the mostly homeless “Zombies” to clean up the river and Tijuana. That would be much cheaper than letting the trash and garbage wash across the river on the other side of the border in the U.S.

 

Tijuana Sewage Solutions: Ecoparque

One of the great fallacies about dealing with untreated wastewater is that solutions require huge government investments in giant and expensive centralized sewage treatment plants. But not only is this not a solution in the cities of the developing world (because those plants can’t treat sewage for people who aren’t hooked up to the sewage line), but when those plants break down, there are major problems with sewage spills and then polluted waterways and beaches.

Tijuana has historically been unable to deal with its high volume of wastewater due to its rapid growth and difficult terrain. Tijuana has relied on the U.S. for must of its  wastewater treatment infrastructure. In the past 20-30 years Tijuana has built a series of small-scale treatment plants.

In the late 1980s, a group of conservationists in Mexico and the U.S. developed a small-scale decentralized project, Ecoparque, in eastern Tijuana that was designed to treat wastewater and reuse it for gardens, compost and even wetlands. The project was built and treats sewage from a nearby neighborhood, but because of the inability of agencies to think outside the box beyond giant projects, more Ecoparques were not built.

I recently toured the Ecoparque facility in Tijuana. It is being upgraded and expanded by COLEF in Tijuana and has the potential to serve as a great model for other low-cost and simple wastewater treatment projects that can provide much needed water for community gardens, wetlands, native plant restoration projects, and native plant nurseries. Additionally it can provide low-cost compost for all of these activities. Back in 1987 or 1988 I volunteered for a day on the construction of Ecoparque. I had also volunteered for the construction of the first module that was tested in the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side.

At the end of the day, the current model of mid to large treatment plants is not a solution. They are too expensive and too centralized. Projects like Ecoparque should be the future. After all, not a single drop of wastewater, especially in our climate and with this drought, should ever reach the ocean.

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The primary sewage treatment module at Ecoparque. Sewage gravity flows from an uphill neighborhood.

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Future wetlands.

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A cool design for a future plant nursery.

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Native plant garden.

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Vermiculture facility.

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Creating compost.

 

The Baja Malibu/Campo Torres Sewage Gulch

These photos were taken at a sewage gulch at the south end of Baja Malibu or Campo Torres on July 23, 2014 (same beach different development). The sewage is released from a development east of the coastal toll road. WILDCOAST is following up with CONAGUA and PROFEPA in Mexico to file complaints. Residents complain of foul odors, fouled ocean water and tons of mosquitoes.

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What the Tijuana Estuary Would Have Looked Like

I’m giving a talk today about the history of conservation in the TJ estuary. Here is what was planned.

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4th Annual Walter Caloca Surf Contest in San Miguel Day 1

On Saturday March 22, 2014  young surfers from Mexico and the U.S. gathered in San Miguel, Baja California to participate in the 4th Annual Walter Caloca Surf Contest. Organized by Alfredo Ramirez and United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean (UAPO) with the help of Zach Plopper and WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, the event provided a forum for young surfers to rip 2-4′ waves and celebrate international friendships. Additionally, Day 1, included the SUP and bodyboard divisions.

It was a great day. Day 2 on March 23, is the open event. The photos here are all from Day 1.

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Daniel Dedina with San Miguel local and artist Jaime Noia.

Daniel Dedina with San Miguel local and artist Jaime Noia.

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Afredo Ramirez of UAPO with competitors. The best part of this contest is bringing together surfers from Mexico and the U.S.

Afredo Ramirez of UAPO with competitors. The best part of this contest is bringing together surfers from Mexico and the U.S.

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Girls contestants.

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Daniel Dedina, Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz from IB.

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Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz await their final heat.

Jack Stewart and Cameron Bartz await their final heat.

Cameron Bartz.

Cameron Bartz.

Lance Mann

Lance Mann

Paul Stewart.

Paul Stewart.

Daniel Dedina

Daniel Dedina

Dakotah Hooker

Dakotah Hooker

Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson

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Dakotah Hooker.

Dakotah Hooker.

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Paul Stewart.

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Javi Meza

Javi Meza

Daniel Dedina

Daniel Dedina

SUP finalists.

SUP finalists.

Grom finalists.

Grom finalists.

Girls finalists.

Girls finalists.

Bodyboard finalists.

Bodyboard finalists.

Junior finalists.

Junior finalists.

Cameron Bartz, Paul Steward, Lance Mann and Daniel Dedina.

Cameron Bartz, Paul Steward, Lance Mann and Daniel Dedina. It is great to see so many young surfers surfing and making friends south of the border. It is great for them to travel and make lots of friends up and down the coast. That is the true spirit of surfing.

Coastal Flooding in Imperial Beach

The surf tripled in size on Saturday March 1st and by the end of the day was breaking out past the Imperial Beach Pier.

The surf tripled in size on Saturday March 1st and by the end of the day was breaking out past the Imperial Beach Pier.

On Saturday March 1, 2014, the surf from an unusual almost Hurricane like storm (in its appearance) battered the coast of Southern California. The surf went from 3-5′ on Saturday morning to more than 10-15′ on Saturday afternoon. High tides and surf that evening resulted in coastal flooding in Imperial Beach and up and down the California coast (especially in the Santa Barbara area).

A satellite image of the unusual storm.

A satellite image of the unusual storm.

 

Swell forecast for Imperial Beach.

In Imperial Beach this swell combined with high tides to create coastal flooding. Surf topped over the sand berm along the beachfront especially in the Cortez/Descanso area and at the Palm Avenue Jetty. On Saturday afternoon surf broke well past the Imperial Beach Pier and over a mile offshore on distant reefs.

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With high surf and high tides on the evening of March 1st, water came over the beach and into Seacoast Drive. Here is the end of Descanso Street the morning of March 2nd.

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The end of Seacoast Drive, March 2nd.

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The end of Encanto Street on March 2nd.

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Ocean Lane just north of Palm Avenune, March 2nd.

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Just north of Palm Avenue, March 2nd.

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The end of Palm Avenue, March 2nd. Flooding worsened here during the morning high tide of March 2nd.

My New Book: Surfing the Border

Here is the cover of my new forthcoming book, Surfing the Border: Adventures at the Edge of the Ocean. It is a collection of essays and articles I’ve written over the past three years about my adventures and life in California, Mexico and around the world. I’m hoping it will be out this summer if not before.

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King Tides and Coastal Flooding in Imperial Beach

Over the past few days in Imperial Beach we’ve had “King Tides” or the highest tides of the year (over 7 feet). The tides caused with larger than average surf (in the 4-8′ range and out of the west) resulted in coastal flooding. The San Diego Union-Tribune  came down to shoot this video and was lucky to have Dr. Bob Guza of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to explain why the flooding was happening. You can see the U-T video here: http://bcove.me/zyhb25e7

Cortez Street end in Imperial Beach on January 29, 2014.

Cortez Street end in Imperial Beach on January 29, 2014.

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The end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach on January 29, 2014.

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Dr. Robert Guza of Scripps Institution of Oceanography talking to a reporter about coastal flooding and king tides on January 30, 2014.

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Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography monitoring conditions in Imperial Beach on January 30, 2014.

Why I Love Imperial Beach: Photo Essay 2

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Decoration on Seacoast Drive.

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The statue, “Spirit of Imperial Beach” looking east toward Palm Avenue.

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Part of the Bibbey’s Shell Shop Mural.

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The opening of IB Yoga has been a very positive development for Imperial Beach.

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The Plank is an IB landmark.

Local surfer Sean Fowler on the window of the Surf Hut.

Local surfer Sean Fowler on the window of the Surf Hut.

My sons and their surf “grom” friends a few years ago. Growing up surfing in IB is a wonderful experience. There is a tight knit group of kids who have been surfing together since they were about five years old and now compete together in swimming and water polo. All of us surf dads are already preparing for their departure for college and adulthood. We’ll miss them and their infectious energy.

 

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