Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Harbor Report: How RGP 54 is helping the harbor

Allyson & Ron Presta

We have been talking about an improved Regional General Permit 54 (RGP54) for well over five years now. This improved permit, which has been in place for close to a year now, streamlines permitting for residents and marinas to dredge under their docks by combining the permits required by the Army Corps of Engineers, California Coastal Commission and State Water Resources Control Board. Without this city permit, this type of dredging is extremely complex and expensive for the individual and marina operators.

I thought it would be interesting to meet with one of the first people to use the improved RGP 54 permit and see how the process of dredging a small marina in Newport Harbor is going. Last week I sat down with Allyson and Ron Presta the owners of the Newport Marina and Bayshore Apartments along with their contractor Paul Gillen from Associated Pacific Constructors. For my readers that have been around the harbor for as long as I have thats the old Swales Apartments and Marina next to the Bayshores entrance.

Because of a close outfall or storm drain that deposits 1,000 cubic yards of sedimentary materials a year, next to their marina, the Presta’s have to dredge every two or three years. Allyson went on to describe the dredging process three years ago, before the new RGP 54 was in place. It took her eighteen months to obtain the five different government agencies permits at that time and removed close to 8,700 cubic yards of materials. At that same time the County of Orange, that maintains the piece of the harbor just in front of the marina took out 26,000 cubic yards. “It was a huge bonus to us that the city cleaned up the upper bay catch basin a few years ago.” Allyson said.

So when I asked, is the process any easier for you?  The Presta’s replied “ It’s become a little bit easier.” Now if I understood the Presta’s clearly it should get a little easier every year as the City and the different contractors gain credibility with the different government agencies. “ There are a lot of documents that are involved to comply with all the conditions. Such as a highly detailed hydrographic surveys before and after dredging, water samples are also taken before and after. We document the depth of the scow, its route and speed to the offshore disposal area. We have to follow the same standards as if were dredging contaminated materials out of the Port of Los Angeles.” Said Paul Gillen the contractor of the Presta’s dredging project.

There are two types of dredging, one that allows the sand to be relocated to the beach and the other is to transport the materials to an offshore disposal site. Even I understood that the offshore option costs more money.

“The process is more than filling out an application, dredging is specialized business, not only do you have to consider if the material is needed to be taken offshore or can replenish the beach we have to take into consideration the docks configuration, their relationship with the seawall and if it can structurally handle dredging, if the pilings are deep enough to support their dock. That’s why the need for a knowledgeable contractor, it’s not like just going online and filling out an application and hoping for the best. These are the type of considerations that the homeowner needs to understand.” Gillian said.

In my forty minute meeting with the Presta’s and Gillen I pretend to understand all the different terms and conditions that are required to complete the dredging process in our harbor. I also heard the idea of finding an area in the harbor to stock pile good sand rather than having to take it offshore and dispose of it. 

So it sounds like that the city did an outstanding job by obtaining an RFP with an Eelgrass mitigation plan attached to it. Along with the understanding on how to keep the RFP in place, but like many so many big projects there are many more pieces to this puzzle before it is completed.

If you have more interest on this topic be sure to save the date Thursday November 10th at Marina Park the City along with Coast Keepers will be sponsoring a workshop on how to dredge with eel grass. I would not forget the date you will save cubic yards of money by attending.

I am just rubbing my face and looking at the next big puzzle that has been placed on the harbor and thats the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and its attempt to force local agencies to ban copper anti-fouling paint. Make sure you go to  to read the City comment letter.

Boat name of the week: Watts Next     

Sea ya