The Buena Vista Lagoon is located in northern Carlsbad, forming a geographical border between us and our neighbors to the north in Oceanside. It is just over 220 acres of wetland, extending inward from the ocean and stopping just short of the I5 interstate.
What makes Buena Vista Lagoon so unique is that it is the only freshwater lagoon in all of Southern California and it’s right here in Carlsbad. There is a man-made barrier that protects the lagoon from tidal influence and the Ecological Reserve that surrounds the lagoon is a habitat that is packed full with over 100 different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
The Buena Vista Lagoon wasn’t originally intended to be a source of freshwater. When people began building houses where the lagoon meets the ocean, pipes were installed to control the water level. Thirty years later, the concrete weir was installed to officially keep the saltwater out. However, the weir has also caused some unexpected side effects. Sediment from stormwater and irrigation drain off has been gathering in the lagoon. This sediment has turned areas of the lagoon into a marshy wetland with cattails sprouting up across many acres of shallow marsh.
As sediment has continued to be deposited into the lagoon, property owners and The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have disputed what the right plan of action should be. Some suggested that removing the weir was the best option while others have maintained that the weir and water levels should stay as-is. Removing the weir would return saltwater to the lagoon, and restore the environment to its original state.
Differing opinions have left the restoration of the lagoon stagnant for many years. But in May of 2020, a compromise was reached to allow the removal of the weir by the SANDAG board.
Fast forward to this year, and the Buena Vista Lagoon restoration project has finally received a generous $3 million grant to start removal of the weir and to restore the surrounding reserve. Now that the project has received funding, permitting and design plans can officially begin. Initial plans reveal that the weir will be removed at the west end of the lagoon and will form a channel that connects to the ocean. The lagoon will transition from freshwater to saltwater and will, in turn, combat the vegetation that has been deteriorating the sustainability of the lagoon.
Construction will take a few years, but officials running the project hope to fast-track the work in order to mitigate continued deterioration. We are grateful for the investment in the lagoon and will continue to keep readers updated as progress is made.