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Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Western end, looking south towards the Encina Power Station
Middle, looking across the I-5, the Coaster line. and Historic Route 101.
south end, looking north
south end, looking south

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon ("agua hedionda" means "pestilent water" in Spanish) is a lagoon in Carlsbad, California, that is fed by the Agua Hedionda Creek. Stewardship of much of the lagoon is held by the Encina Power Station and its owner NRG Energy. In November 2000 the Agua Hedionda Lagoon was designated as a critical habitat for the tidewater goby.[1]

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center is a facility for education about the natural history, ecology and cultural history of the lagoon and surrounding area. The Lagoon Discovery Center has an award-winning Environmental Stewardship School Program aimed at local 3rd graders which incorporates hands-on learning on Lagoon history, archaeology, Native American culture, migratory birds, and watersheds and wetlands. The Discovery Center also holds numerous free family festivals throughout the year, as well as free monthly lectures and birding hikes. The center opened in 2006 and features a large native plant garden and expansive lagoon views.

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon has marshes of which are open to the public. This lagoon has many prohibitions for the travelers and tourists that come to visit this San Diego bay. The use of parasailing, a hovercraft, cabin cruisers, motorized surfboards, and aircraft are prohibited on the shorelines of bay. Visitors are also forbidden from leaving vessels on the lagoon. Public events must be approved by the City of Carlsbad Parks and Recreations Department and during these scheduled proceedings, swimming and/or wading is not allowed.[2]

Fishing is a popular activity at this lagoon, however limitations are also implemented. There are designated fishing areas in the lower east end of the lagoon due to algae preventing quality fishing in other parts of the lagoon. Those who are fishing on a boat are not allowed to anchor, because doing so would disrupt the lagoon’s natural environment as well as endanger the species that live in the waters. In addition, all California Fish and Game Laws are highly enforced during this activity. There is a fishing license requirement for those that are 16 years and older. Shoreline fishing or vessel is only allowed in the passive recreation areas.[3] Passive Recreation Areas Legal definition: A passive recreation area is an undeveloped space or environmentally sensitive area that requires minimal development. Entities such as a parks department may maintain passive recreation areas for the well-being of the public and for the preservation of wildlife and the environment. The quality of the environment and "naturalness" of an area is the focus of the recreational experience in a passive recreation area.[4]

There is public access to the Bay Shore drive and is open for walking traffic from sunrise to sunset. Walking traffic is the primary way of directing visitors, and furthermore, vehicles are prohibited from driving through when walking traffic is enforced. A vessel permit is required for launching access from the bay shoreline. Vehicle use is highly limited as it is not environmentally beneficial or safe whilst on the shoreline.[5]

Regulations are necessary in order to a reduce pollution on the lagoon, including a prohibition on alcohol consumption. One of the biggest regulations would be alcohol regulation due to the bottles and cans that are potentially left on the lagoon and can harm the endangered species that are present.

At the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, dredging in the lagoon has occurred every two to four years, since 1954.[6] Prior to the beginning of dredging, the lagoon was not connected to the Pacific Ocean.[6] There are 500,000 cubic yards of sand pulled up from the bottom of the lagoon through this dredging.[7] About half of the sand pulled out will go to a stretch of the beach between the intake and outlet jetties just outside of the lagoon. The remaining sand will be split between the beach at Tamarack and Oak Avenues and the shoreline just south of the lagoon. Encina Power Station is on the lagoon and pays for the dredging that occurs. Carlsbad desalination plant at the Encina Power Station will provide 50 million gallons of desalinated water per day.[8] By 2017, Poseidon Water will take charge of dredging responsibilities over NRG Energy.

Dredging supports two foundations within the Carlsbad vicinity. It helps the Carlsbad Aqua Farm, which raises and sells oysters and mussels. In addition, dredging benefits Hubbs-Seaworld Institute, which operates a hatchery for White Sea bass.[9] According to Kasia Trojanowska, the Carlsbad Parks Planner, “the dredging puts sand back on the beach so that beach goers have a nice sandy spot to place their towels.” Dredging maintains the tidal circulation of the lagoon and creates a larger shoreline that is free of rocks.[10] Encina Power Station was commissioned in 1954, which is when the first dredging was recorded. Its location on the lagoon on the southern shore, allows it to serve as a cooling station for the power plant. This power station is fueled by natural gas and electricity. Encina Power Station’s location on the lagoon is supportive to the community because it is one the main sources of energy in San Diego. The lagoon is known as a good place to walk your dogs, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, and do many other physical activities. The lagoon is a social attraction, it has services to pursue the activities through events and gatherings. Its location in the city of Carlsbad leads to its occasional reference as the “Carlsbad Lagoon.” Other activities that are performed at this lagoon include wakeboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, and wave runner. The lagoon sees most of its visitors during summer.


  1. ^ [1] The Carlsbad Watershed Network website
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External links

  • Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation

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