Sand pumping racing the clock

by George Wiley

The Redondo Beach sand replenishment project, designed to build up the beach along a stretch of shoreline just south of the Redondo pier, is racing to beat an April 1 deadline imposed by the nesting habits of the Least Tern.

The County of Los Angeles has also committed nearly $1 million to put more sand on the beach than was originally planned, bringing the effort's price tag to about $9 million.

According Dean Smith, executive assistant for the Dept. of Beaches and Harbors, a total of about 200,000 cubic meters of sand will be pumped onto the beach by the April 1 deadline. Smith said the effort must end then for two reasons. One is the beginning of the nesting period for the Least Tern, a rare and protected species of sea bird. Grunion runs are also expected about that time and could delay pumping, Smith added. Grunion are a small fish that use the beaches as spawning ground.

Beyond that, he said, the dredging equipment, which was towed south from Alaska just for this job, must begin its return journey to that state about April 1 for work this summer. Smith said the trip will take about three months for the cumbersome dredging barges.

The April 1 deadline means that the pumping will have to go on around the clock. There will be noise day and night, which may annoy nearby residents. Construction crews will be using floodlights and generators which are expected to create a noise nuisance.

"We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the residents," said Redondo mayor Greg Hill. "There is an end in sight, and the end result will be a renewal of our treasured shoreline."ER