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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
July 24, 2000


Far from news, estuaries have been under attack since the railroad came to town at the turn of the century. This latest insult pales in comparison to the one that put the first earthen berm, from Oceanside to Del Mar, at the mouth of every estuarine system, forever altering them in the process. Human encroachment is now threatening these native habitats as never before.

As if the power plant and mussel farms weren't invasive enough, some clueless monkey has introduced a killer algae known as caulerpa taxifola. Like it's human counterparts on land, this tropical species is capable of eradicating native flora and fauna. Spreading like a cancer, in an already fractured ecosystem, this invasive exotic could choke the Encina intake "lagoon" and spread offshore.

Last week in the North County Times it was reported that plans are afoot in Carlsbad to lengthen the two jetties making up the north inlet to the Aqua Hedionda Estuary. The reason being given for this anti-environmental proposal is to keep sediments from building up in the artificial lagoon, created to supply water for the Encina power plant.

Requesting this extension, Cabrillo Power, the power plant's new owner, seems to be experiencing a case of buyers remorse. Faced with an increase in sediment buildup sometime in the future, Cabrillo wants to prevent sand from clogging their private enterprise, and is willing to starve beaches to the south in order to protect their bottom line.

It's hard to imagine this purchase would have gone through if the buyer had not been given assurances that jetty expansion was possible. True to form, Carlsbad City Councilwoman Ann Kulchin, wearing the chairman hat of San Diego Association Government regional Shoreline Erosion Committee, is mouthing words of caution, at the same time the City of Carlsbad is negotiating to include Cabrillo property in a proposed redevelopment district.

Not only will these two parties benefit from blocking the "lagoon's" mouth, the jetty expansion will also allow sand to build up on Carlsbad's beaches, to the detriment of Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar. These wide beaches will be used to promote tourism, and tourists that will be spending money in the new redevelopment district. It's a win-win situation for the money changers at Carlsbad City Hall.

Aqua Hedionda will never be restored to it's original state because it is not in the best interest of those who profit from activities hastening ecosystem demise. Ringed by homes and extensive agriculture, human activity is adding more sediment to the "lagoon" than the wave action can place on beaches to the south. This due to the dam currently supporting Coast Highway 101, the railroad, and Interstate 5. Carlsbad's Snug Harbor Marina also requires Agua Hedionda to remain in a highly dredged state to continue profiting from pollution. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the California Dream is an environmental nightmare.

Threatened by sedimentation and invasive non-native species, Buena Vista lagoon is also being strangled by a tangle of reeds that are crowding out natives and harboring mosquitos, all because no one is willing to make the tough decisions and open up that lagoon to tidal flushing. And as if trying to balance out environmental mayhem, Carlsbad will dredge Batisquitos lagoon until any semblance to a healthy biotic community is purely accidental.

Encroachment is such an ominous word, yet perfect for describing Carlsbad and it's uncontrolled growth. As a form of environmental degradation, humanity has been a biological bulldozer claiming all that stands in its way. Carlsbad just happens to be an over-achiever in that regard.

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