SANDAG crews continue to work on the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration project in Del Mar, which will convert 84 acres — or approximately 63 football fields — of former agricultural fields to saltwater wetlands.
Let’s dredge up the project’s goals and progress for the portion of the lagoon system east of Interstate 5 at El Camino Real and Villa De La Valle known as W-19.
💡 The why
Southern California Edison began restoring wetlands in the area in 2011. Since 2022 SANDAG has been spearheading this phase to supplement those initial efforts.
Per SANDAG, the additional wetlands will enhance the natural flood control channel and create a sustainable ecosystem in preparation for future sea level rise and anticipated flood conditions.
The restored wetlands will remove invasive vegetation and benefit local wildlife, including federally endangered and threatened species like the Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail and Coastal California Gnatcatcher.
The project will also create a new hiking trail parallel to El Camino Real and improve connectivity to the Dust Devil Nature Trail.
🦺 The how — by the numbers
- The wetlands will include 64 acres of tidal salt marsh, 15 acres of brackish wetlands (saltwater and freshwater), and the enhancement of five acres of riparian habitat
- To make room, a total of 1.1 million cubic yards of soil will be removed — the equivalent of 333 Olympic-sized swimming pools
- The $87 million project is funded by the SANDAG TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program and federal funding
- As of October 2023, SANDAG tells SDtoday that grading activities are 75% complete; crews are continuing to excavate the saltwater basins and grade for the new trail system
- The project is on track to be completed in fall 2024