Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Massive Artificial Reef Grows like Wild - Sign On San Diegeo

photo credit Southern California Edison

The Wheeler North Reef was put in place by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Riverside. Their nuclear generating station in North County caused large-scale ecological damage after its erection in 1974.

The permit they held was re-evaluated to make up for the losses suffered due to the plant. The companies had to restore the San Dieguito marsh, finance a marine fish hatchery and construct an artificial reef to replace lost kelp beds.

"The new reef is north of the nuclear plant near San Clemente. It started in 1999 as a 22.4-acre experimental project designed to guide construction of a larger reef."

The foundation of the reef is made of a single layer of medicine-ball-sized boulders across the sand. At this size they will be moved about by passing storms and the ecosystem will be dynamic.

“To get giant kelp coming back generation after generation, there always needs to be bare rock on the reef, and you are only going to get that if you have an unstable reef,” says David Kay, head of environmental projects for Edison.

So far, so good. The reef now spreads 174-acres and the kelp beds are back and strong.

"“We are really well on the way to having duplicated a very complex ecosystem on a large scale,” said Kay.

The growing reef has passed nine of 14 important benchmarks and remains on a positive trajectory. Congrats!

Full article here (Sign On San Diego)

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