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Opening sluiceway should satisfy court

Patricia Weber called for the removal of the sluice gates at the Children’s Pool as a means of cleansing the site. I applaud her suggestion. It is a restoration solution which is workable but which has been consistently neglected by the city of San Diego.

There are two end points to which all parties can agree. With the sluice gates open, flushing cleaned the pool of sand to the bottom of the sluiceways. The other end point is today, wherein the sluice gates are completely closed and roughly 10 feet of sand has accumulated at the rear of the pool.

The central challenge is to find a sluiceway level at which point sufficient sand is retained to maintain a sandy beach but which will still allow adequate flushing to assure human-safe water contact. This “new” sluiceway level should be near mean sea level (MSL). Establishing a new sluiceway weir (floor) at MSL would at least guarantee that half of the tides would flood the sand held behind the weir.

Some have questioned whether the 11 feet of concrete overlying the existing sluiceways is sufficiently robust to support itself. Removing the concrete overlying the sluiceways and isolating the outer breakwater from the inner one would solve this potential problem. If public access is desired, the city could plan a simple walkway to bridge the gap. If not, then the outer railings could be removed and the public access restricted.

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Following sluiceway removal, wave and tide action would be greatest along the sea wall. The resulting beach would be linear, along the adjoining bluff. This solution does not fully address the Pate Court directive to restore the beach to the 1941 condition. The Pate directive was based on the earliest documented photo of the beach that showed it parallel to the breakwater opening. Had an earlier photo been available, it would have shown a linear beach along the bluff line. The suggested action satisfies the most important Pate Court directives:

“The City, as trustee of the Children’s Pool, is hereby ordered to employ all reasonable means to restore the Pool ... by removing the sand build-up and further to reduce the level of water contamination in the Pool to levels certified by the County of San Diego as being safe for humans.”

David W. Valentine, Ph.D., is a retired marine scientist who lives in La Jolla.