The Buena Vista Lagoon. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A regional agency board voted Friday to allow a lagoon to connect to the ocean to flush out sediment.

The Buena Vista Lagoon accumulated enough sediment during the last 30 years to lose more than 60 acres of open water. That’s according to documents compiled by San Diego Association of Governments.

Current conditions result in poor water quality, increased flooding, and a higher risk of exposure to mosquitos.

Without restoration, experts predict the North County lagoon has no more than 50 years of life left. They expect vegetation to overrun it.

SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus called the decision “one we should celebrate.” He credited agency staff, along with stakeholders willing to come to a consensus. They include homeowners, and city and state representatives.

“It is more important than ever to preserve natural habitats, such as the Buena Vista Lagoon, to ensure it is sustainable for years to come,” Vaus said.

The lagoon, straddled by Interstate 5 and fed by Buena Vista Creek, forms the boundary between Carlsbad and Oceanside. It runs from the Pacific Ocean on the west to Jefferson Street on the east.

The lagoon and its associated wetlands span about 220 acres. In 1969, the state set the lagoon aside as California’s first ecological reserve.

The attraction, primarily owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, draws native and migratory birds. The public can enjoy fishing and hiking there, along with a small nature center on the grounds.

In 2018, SANDAG completed an environmental impact report which recommended the shift to a saltwater lagoon. Members of the public both supported and challenged the recommendation.

In response, the SANDAG board postponed certifying the report. That allowed more time for a consensus between homeowners, state and federal agencies and local cities.

SANDAG Principal Regional Planner Keith Greer led those efforts. He called the final deal “well worth the wait.”

“Now all parties have a common goal and we can work together to secure funding and help restore the Buena Vista Lagoon to a vibrant, thriving preserve for nature and its visitors to enjoy,” he said.

Last week, the Carlsbad City Council unanimously approved the modified saltwater plan. The private property owners around the lagoon inlet, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Coastal Commission expressed support for the proposal. The Buena Vista Audubon Society and the Sierra Club did as well.

Meanwhile, the lagoon enhancement project awaits funding.  Planners have not set a construction timeline.

– City News Service