A $300,000 pilot study underway now could offer an answer to moving sand to the Peninsula beach without huge earthmover trucks driving up and down.
But the process may be the cause of sand "sinkholes" that have occurred near the Claremont Lifeguard Station.
The method being tested mixes sand and water, then pumps it through a 10-inch diameter pipe to the area where the sand is needed. According to Elvira Hallinan, Marine Bureau manager, the test will try several lengths of pipeline, up to 300 feet.
"Traffic on the beach is pretty heavy now, and is disruptive," Hallinan said. "A pipe would be much less disruptive… What we're studying now is whether this hydraulic pumping works, how much sand it can move."
The 30-day test is using an excavator on the beach at 55th Place to get sand and water to a pump and pipeline. Crews are on hand to change pipe lengths and operate the equipment.
One of the locations where the sand was being deposited is near the water line off Claremont. On Wednesday, Feb. 5, a woman on the beach near that location got caught in a sinkhole that trapped her leg to the point where lifeguards and firefighters had to dig her out.
Another sinkhole incident was reported the next day on NextDoor.com, but the person involved was able to free themselves, according to reports. However, officials said they had not linked the sand-moving project directly to the sinkholes.
"If this approach works, it would be better than trucks," said Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, whose district included this stretch of beach. "We need to establish some best practices.
"Regarding the sinkholes, we're still not sure whether there is a connection. It's definitely one of the things they are studying."
Long Beach has used earthmovers for more than a decade to move sand from the beach near the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier to the beach fronting the Peninsula. The prevailing current inside San Pedro Bay scours that beach, eroding the sand away.
The city has spent between $100,000 and $300,000 a year to rebuild the Peninsula beach since the mid-1990s. Multiple studies and experiments have tried to find a way to slow the erosion, but none has been successful so far.
Hallinan said the study would continue for 30 days. The beach in the area remains open, with people cautioned to stay away from equipment and the pipes.
"This approach is truly something different," Price said. "If we can show it works, it's something that could be used elsewhere. But we must make sure it is safe first."