Carlsbad City Council votes to support Saltwater Alternative of BV Lagoon Enhancement Project!

Wonderful news about the Buena Vista Lagoon Enhancement Project Final EIR!!   Carlsbad City Council, on November 7, unanimously voted to prepare a letter of support for SANDAG staff’s recommendation that the Saltwater Alternative be selected as the preferred alternative.

Several months ago, City of Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher  took the lead on organizing an informational session about SANDAG staff’s work on the BVL FEIR, which would be presented at a City Council meeting.  This presentation would inform the public and Council about the FEIR’s results and SANDAG’s recommendations, and offer a chance for council members and the public to ask questions.  Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall is a SANDAG Board member, one of the 18 voting Board members who will be making the final decision on the alternative for the BVL Enhancement Project,  and thus this presentation would also present any information that may be helpful for making a decision.

At this Council meeting, Keith Greer (SANDAG staff) made a presentation about the Final EIR and explained why the Saltwater Alternative was chosen.  Following the presentation, three speakers voiced support for the saltwater alternative: two from Buena Vista Audubon, and one from the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation.

After the presentation,  Ms. Schumacher submitted a motion to direct staff to draft a letter supporting the saltwater alternative.  Councilmember Blackburn seconded that motion (commenting that he lives by the lagoon and the mosquitoes are a problem).  Councilmember Packard noted that because the BV Lagoon Foundation agreed to support the saltwater alternative, he would also support it.  Council then voted unanimously to prepare a letter of support for the SANDAG staff’s saltwater recommendation.

This is great news, and because Mayor Matt Hall is the SANDAG Board member and voting rep for Carlsbad, we are delighted to know that he will support the saltwater alternative at the SANDAG Board of Directors meeting in January.  SANDAG staff will present their recommendations for the Saltwater Alternative at that meeting, and the Board will take a vote on one of the alternatives.  However, it is important that the Final EIR is certified once the Board votes.  The other issue is that funding is not in place yet.  This is normal-projects need to be “shovel ready” in order to receive funding, so the project itself needs to be planned first.  Once this project is certified, funding opportunities can be selected.

Buena Vista Audubon wishes to thank Councilmember Cori Schumacher for her hard work over the last few months in organizing the SANDAG presentation and making sure that it got on the agenda in a timely manner.  And for her motion that Council support the saltwater alternative.  We also thank the other City Council members and Mayor Hall, as well as the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation,  for their support of the saltwater alternative, and also Keith Greer and SANDAG staff for their hard work on this project.


  1. local on January 9, 2018 at 7:24 PM

    What’s it gonna look and smell like? Like the back of Agua Hedionda?
    I heard people are calling it “Mudflats and homeless camps”
    & I, for one, think North County could use a little more Hepatitis A in the neighborhood; great plan.

    • Natalie Shapiro on January 11, 2018 at 9:24 PM

      We disagree here. Mudflats don’t smell and homeless camps couldn’t exist on mudflats as they would sink. There are already plenty of homeless camps upstream along BV creek. Has nothing to do with whether the lagoon is FW or SW. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is Hep A in BV Creek, but can’t tell you for sure. Meanwhile, the lagoon is being lost to cattails so soon there will be no view. We don’t know if there is currently Hepatitis A in the lagoon but there is certainly E. Coli and mosquito larvae. The saltwater alternative would allow flushing out of the lagoon so E. Coli wouldn’t build up and mosquito larvae wouldn’t proliferate.

  2. local on February 6, 2018 at 4:17 PM

    Mudflats do smell- do you know what the Carlsbad’s nearest other saltwater lagoon’s name is? Agua Hedionda literally means “SMELLY water.” Homeless camps upstream would not magically disappear with salt water, and adding ~70 acres (roughly the equivalent of 50+ football fields) of mudflats/marsh leaves 50 more football fields of real estate for homeless camps than water does. You mention the cattails, but somehow the simple plan addressing the cattails evades you and Carlsbad’s city council. The EIR reports cattail removal would cost between $1.8-3 million, while the salt alternative is over 60 million dollars. I think we should get rid of the cattails at a savings of 95%. Unless maybe you have the $60 million that your alternative is going to cost taxpayers?

    • Natalie Shapiro on February 13, 2018 at 9:57 AM

      Not sure where you got the $1.8-3 million figure. Doesn’t seem correct. Removal of sediment and sand will be hugely expensive-for either alternative.

      As far as costs, please refer to the Buena Vista Lagoon Restoration Feasibility Analysis Report. I provided a link here to the Report, which goes into details of the construction and maintenance costs of both alternatives:

      I also spoken with the author of this report, the lead engineer on the BV Lagoon Enhancement project who gave me more details on why there are differences (David Cannon, of Everest International Consultants, Inc.).

      From the Report, construction cost estimates for each alternative are:
      Saltwater: $60 – $65 million. Freshwater: $42 – $46 million.

      Annual maintenance cost estimates:
      Saltwater: $152,000 – $233,000 Freshwater: $221,000 – $504,000

      Maintenance costs for the Saltwater alternative are less because there are no sediment inputs from upstream (fluvial sediment); without the weir, fluvial sediment can pass through to the ocean. Also, because much of upstream is developed, there are little sediment inputs compared with the past. With the Freshwater Alternative, because the weir keeps fluvial sediment from reaching the ocean, dredging would be required to remove fluvial deposits, and the dredging process is expensive. The goal is for Buena Vista Lagoon to be similar to San Elijo or Penasquitos lagoons. As with these lagoons, cheaper conventional methods of sand removal (backhoes, etc.) can be used, rather than the more expensive dredging process (as with Batiquitos Lagoon, which has deep habitat areas which require dredging for maintenance). The cost estimates for Buena Vista Lagoon maintenance are based on the current maintenance costs of San Elijo and Penasquitos Lagoons.

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