February 2012 home page

part III Preserving Our "New" Lagoon

This is the last part in the series.


We Lagoon
Dawn Rawls | Klish Way

Note: The Sandpiper is proud to present a 3-part series about the role of the Del Mar San Dieguito Lagoon Committee in preserving and restoring the Lagoon. Phase I, presented in our November issue, dealt with early history: getting organized and shaping the vision. Phase II, presented in our December issue, concerned the rebirth of the lagoon.


The final stage of the San Dieguito Wetlands Restoration project took place on September 29 when the last remaining spit of land was removed, allowing ocean tides to flow in and out, continuously replenishing the wetlands with nutrients and fish. Construction crews excavated 40,000 cubic yards of sand to clear the river channel.  Photo Paul Haydu

Having considered the history of the restoration of the San Dieguito Lagoon in two previous issues of the Sandpiper, now we come to the question for today: “How can we ensure the continuing robust health of this productive and beautiful ecosystem?” Think “Flowing, clean water!”

Water: Keep it Flowing.

The Lagoon ecosystem thrives today because fresh water coming down the river mixes with ocean saltwater. The new wider inlet and dredging of the river mouth will keep these tidal waters flowing in and out of the lagoon. The California Coastal Commission knew the importance of going with the flow and mandated a long-term program of just such dredging for Southern California Edison’s restoration plan. Additionally, SCE deposited with the Del Mar Foundation an endowment to fund dredging once SCE’s 40-year responsibility is complete.

Maintaining adequate river flow depends upon careful oversight of development along the river’s length. Bridges for roads and train tracks constrict flow. Overbuilding tends to dump sediment filling up the riverbed. Invasive plants take root and clog the channel. Increasing population increases the chances of trash unintentionally and intentionally cluttering and congesting the river’s course.

Water: Keep it Clean.

Flowing water brings the good, bad and the innocent into our lagoon. Those “goodies” are all the nutrients in a healthy brackish ecosystem, including dissolved oxygen in the water, sunshine that filters through the water and the food web that leads up to the crabs, fish and birds we enjoy watching in the lagoon. “Badies” include plant fertilizers and pesticides, animal waste, commercial waste, construction debris and mundane trash. And the “innocents”? Well, even the rain washes those “badies” into the river and then the tides pump that river water into the lagoon.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board is our guardian angel in keeping river water clean by setting standards and procedures for cities, the county, the Fairgrounds and other businesses to follow in limiting the “badies” that get into our ocean and river water. That clean water “fee” on your Del Mar water and sewer bill pays for keeping our municipal runoff water clean, thereby protecting our lagoon.

Can we each help to keep saving our lagoon? Sure!

Here are some little efforts that add up quickly:

1. In the yard: use less fertilizer, pesticide and landscape water.

2. On your walks: clean up after your pets, pick up trash.

3. Drive a little less: tailpipe soot, tire rubber and even air pollution find their way into our river.

4. Be patient: all those rules and regulations about building permits and that clean water fee keep our runoff water clean.

5. Support those important organizations that support our lagoon: Del Mar Council and staff, San Dieguito Lagoon Committee, Del Mar Foundation, Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, San Dieguito River Valley Park, Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board and all those pesky citizens who try to constrain egregious development and increasing traffic.

Most important, enjoy all the pleasures a walk by the lagoon can bring. Share those pleasures, especially with grandchildren who will then keep saving our lagoon.




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