NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Dredging of the Newport Beach lower harbor came to a ceremonial end here April 17 when officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Newport Beach celebrated the project’s benefits to the region and the relationships that enabled its success.
Dredging about 600,000 cubic yards of material from federal channels in the lower bay marked the completion of the joint effort that began in 2003 with the environmental restoration of the upper bay and ended with the first significant dredging of the lower bay in more than 70 years, providing safe navigation for thousands of first responder, commercial and recreational vessels that visit or call the port home.
Keith Curry, mayor of Newport Beach, said there was great benefit in being able to coordinate the construction of the two projects.
“By dredging the upper bay, we are able to reduce the amount of sediment that ends up in the lower bay, so that was a very important project,” Curry said. “It is a culturally important ecosystem in the upper bay that needed to be restored. It was a great project in of itself, but doing that project first helped ensure the success of the lower bay dredging by reducing the amount of sediment that ultimately moves down to the lower bay, keeping water clear and clean and deep through the bay now. This in an example of government well and working well together.”
Working well together seemed to be the catchphrase that best describes the effort of the Corps-Newport Beach partnership.
To compensate for federal funding limitations, the city of Newport Beach provided more than $6.1 million to help pay for the work. Additionally, the Port of Long Beach provided access to their middle harbor fill site for placement of nearly 112,000 cubic yards of material that was not suitable for disposal at the EPA-approved LA-3 offshore site.
“These partnerships enhance our opportunities to provide first-class engineering solutions to address our nation’s needs,” said Lt. Col. Alex Deraney, deputy district commander for the Corps’ Los Angeles District. “It is the way we do business now, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future: to partner with multiple agencies and stakeholders, maximizing limited federal and local funds to provide the greatest benefit for the citizens of the United States.”
“This is the largest dredging project since they first dredged 70 years ago. They had some pretty serious issues with shoaling from the upper bay,” said Scott John, the Corps’ project manager for Newport Beach dredging. “So, being able to come in here and clean it up, hopefully for another 70 years, is a big step.”
“This was the first comprehensive dredging of Newport Harbor since President Roosevelt punched the button to open the bay back in the 1930s,” Curry said. “We’ve had sediment in the harbor since World War II that was contaminated.”
“The Corps of Engineers was a wonderful partner to the city in making this project work,” Curry said. “The Corps coordinated the resources and identified the ability to move the contaminated material to the Port of Long Beach, which they could use for the port expansion up there. So it was a win-win for everybody. We couldn’t have been more pleased with our partnership with the Corps, who made this project a success.”
“Building Strong doesn’t refer only to structures or engineering responsibilities,” Deraney said. “It forms the basis of our partnerships. It enables us to move from ideas to studies to plans to projects. The strength of our partnership with the city of Newport Beach enhances our ability to continue to build strong and take care of people.”