ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Federal dollars recently earmarked for Orange County projects has local officials excited.

The recent federal funding bill contained $15.5 million for the Surfside-Sunset and Newport Beach Replenishment Project. U.S. Rep Michelle Steel, R-Calif., who represents many of Orange County’s prominent beach cities, pushed for the much requested sand replenishment dollars.

What You Need To Know

  • Orange County will receive $15.5 million in funding for beach replenishment

  • Critics point to projects executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the culprit

  • For almost three decades, the federal government funded two-thirds of the replenishment effort

  • This latest infusion was richly applauded by local mayors and politicians

“Our coastal communities and local businesses were impacted last year by flooding, the oil spill and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley. “This long overdue funding to replenish the sand in our coastal community is critical to protect our local residents and tourism economy.”

Local beaches have been eroding for years, with some tracing the problem back to construction that began in the 1940s. Anaheim Bay was widened and break waters, designed to protect the shore, were selectively installed. Local stakeholders say erosion began after this construction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saw the problem and began trucking in sand under the “San Gabriel to Newport Beach Renourishment Project.” That effort has been renamed the Surfside-Sunset and Newport Beach Replenishment Project. The federal government funded two-thirds of the project from 1964 to 1990. Shortly after, USACE cut funding pointing to a trimmed budget. 

The beach cities, including Huntington and Seal beach will all benefit from the money.

Newport Beach city has already benefited from more than $8 million which it will use to dredge its harbor, which needs to be deepened. While the city seeks out federal or county dollar for local projects, it has also been willing to dip into its general fund to pay for or make up the difference for essential projects.

“The City of Newport Beach appreciates Congresswoman Steel’s persistent efforts to secure federal funding for the Surfside-Sunset Ocean Beach Sand Replenishment Project. This is an extremely important project for our community, the environment and all those who enjoy Newport Beach’s waterways and coastline,” said Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon.

The funding bill also extended money for telehealth services for people holding High Deductible Health Plans through the end of 2022. It had been extended in the CARES Act, but expired in December.

The bill also included money to increase security at houses of worship, $14 billion economic, humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine and money for a 2.7% pay increase for service members.