The Tidal Inlet Questions
By Shirley Dettloff
See the latest on the dredging of the tidal inlet project that keeps the ocean flowing into and out of the full tidal basin:
What allows the Bolsa Chica Wetland to flourish and to survive: the tidal inlet. This is where the ocean waters flow into the wetland and then flow out again. Without this nourishment, the wetland would die. Before this inlet was created, there were no tidal waters in what is now the larger restored wetland area for over 100 years. After the creation of the tidal entrance, ocean waters flowed into Bolsa Chica and restoration has been a great success. To maintain what has been restored, the tidal inlet has to be dredged on a yearly basis, a very costly operation. The dredging in the current cycle is almost complete, and there is funding for one more year. What happens then?
We must depend on the state coming up with the necessary funding yet there is no guarantee that these funds would be available. Projects up and down the state are vying for state money, and pressure will be put on legislators to fund their projects. This means that all of the organizations that realize the importance of the Bolsa Chica will have to go into action once again and the cry SAVE THE BOLSA CHICA will be heard. It is critical to be successful, but you can imagine the work and the dedication this will take. We must be prepared!
Another issue has also come forward: the Poseidon project, a desalinization operation planned to be built in Huntington Beach to provide additional water for this area. Mitigation for the operational impacts on the marine environment from the desalinization project could mean that Poseidon will be committed to keeping the tidal inlet open for 50 years. The Poseidon project is now in the long process of hearings and approvals. Currently, the project is going through the Regional Water Quality Control Board and has not yet received a final decision. If approved, the next step would be the California Coastal Commission, a process that may take several months or even years.
So we have two questions: Will the state assume funding the dredging or will, and only if approved, will Poseidon fund maintenance to keep the tidal inlet open? We must watch closely and be prepared to do whatever needs to be done to ensure that the tidal inlet remains a functioning part of the restoration of the Bolsa Chica. We have done it before and I believe our dedication to this magnificent resource will motivate us once again. We fought to save, to restore, and now to make sure that this important natural resource lives for future generations.