Malibu Creek discussion brings similar concerns on the sediment removal

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(Far right) Former Mayor Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner speaks during a public workshop held by California State Parks on The Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project on Tuesday, June 13, at Malibu City Hall. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Malibu residents, local surfers, and councilmembers attended the workshop on restoration project 

California State Parks held a public workshop on the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project at Malibu City Hall last week and gave participants an opportunity to ask State Parks and the project team questions about the project and share their concerns. 

State Parks and a team of 10 civil engineers, consultants, and project managers attended the workshop to answer participants’ questions, provide project information and receive feedback.

Senior Environmental Scientist for California State Parks Richard Van Sant facilitated the discussion and shared a brief history of the project’s timeline, goals, and objectives. 

“This is the team that’s going to make this all happen, so a lot of what I’m doing is facilitating, helping everyone along, making sure studies get completed, and making sure we’re on time with our budget,” Van Sant said. 

Van Sant said one of the challenges is the trucking (sediment transportation) issues and what to do with the remaining sediment. 

State Parks holds Project wokrshop
(Far right) Former Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner speaks during a public workshop held by California State Parks on The Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project on Tuesday, June 13, at Malibu City Hall. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The project involves the removal of the decommissioned Rindge Dam along Malibu Creek, removal of approximately 780,000 cubic yards of sediment behind the dam, and modification/removal of eight upstream barriers along Las Virgenes and Cold Creeks within the Malibu Creek watershed.

“We’re trying to come up with other options than trucking, so our minds are very open and it should be a fun challenge for us all,” Coastal Dynamics Lead Scientist Christopher Webb said. 

The project, which is moving into the pre-construction, engineering, and design (PED) phase, involves the removal of Rindge Dam and removal/modification of eight upstream barriers to improve creek habitat within the Malibu Creek watershed and nourish nearby beaches with sand. 

The project began in 1992 when the U.S. House of Representatives commissioned the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study to improve the Malibu Creek watershed and Malibu shoreline.

State Parks states that removing the dam and barriers will not only help the recovery of Southern California steelhead but benefits countless other species. When completed the project will restore creek ecosystem functions and increase habitat connectivity, including opening 15 additional miles of stream habitat for the endangered Southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), improve climate resiliency, and restore natural sediment transport processes that will nourish our beaches with vital sand. 

Director for the South Coast and Sierra regions Sandra Jacobson said their role in this project is public engagement and that these types of meetings are extremely important.

“This is an ecosystem-level project — it’s big, it’s bold, but we take up most care in thinking about every issue that comes in this project and how it impacts you directly,” Jacobson said. “We’re at the beginning of this journey; it’s been a long one until this day but you can just tell the momentum of this project, with the citizens of Malibu in mind, is now really starting to really take shape.” 

Jacobson said they will provide updated information about the project on their website at caltrout.org.

After introductions, participants were given two minutes to ask their questions, and the panel was given one minute to answer. 

Serra Retreat resident Eddy Bitton said flooding is a concern in his neighborhood and hopes his neighborhood and surrounding areas will be considered during the design and sediment removal.

“The bridge is extremely important to Serra Retreat,” Bitton said. “It’s the second point of entry for emergency vehicles, for anyone who may need to get in and out of our community, so that bridge is really important and it has to stay.”

Civil engineer Kevin Jensen said the issue of flooding is on their radar and said it’s listed as number two of the concerns they have, after the ecosystem restoration. 

“Our main concern was basically what we experienced during the severe rainfall over the last couple of years, and that is that downstream from their proposed project is our homes and our homes are exposed directly to the creek and that creek can raise up and come into our yard and into our house,” Bitton said. “So my point to them was to be very careful when they are planning on removing chunks of concrete and huge barriers; that water is coming down to homeowners not just from the dam perspective, but from the dam until it hits the ocean.”

The target date for completion of the PED phase is March 2026. The estimated time for construction is 2027/2028. The estimated time of completion is 2035. 

To obtain more project information, including future dates for the public workshop, visit www.parks.ca.gov/MCERP. To sign up for email notifications or for questions about the project, email restoremalibucreek@parks.ca.gov.