Dec 082008
 

San Diego county will be home for more artificial reefs. We already have several – The ships to reefs projects (Yukon, Ruby E, etc), and others like the old Ingraham Bridge debris.

The newest reef (though technically in Orange County) is also one of the biggest – the Wheeler North Artificial Kelp Reef is made up of 175-acres of 120,000 tons of volcanic rock two miles south of San Clemente Pier. It was built by Edison as a way to repair the damage done to an existing reef by the warm water discharge of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. It is the first artificial reef to specifically host kelp, and special care had to be taken to make sure it would take:

“There have been many failed attempts to build a kelp forest,” House said. “We learned you just can’t pile high rocks and expect a successful reef. David Kay, Southern California Edison’s manager of environmental projects, said the rocks must be large enough to anchor the kelp, which are algae that can grow 1½ to 2 feet a day to a length of 120 feet… Some of the rocks have to be light enough so the ocean can toss them about, to shake off organisms that crowd out the kelp.

LA Times reports that the Coastal Commission also has Edison doing some other projects to help repair the damage:

“Edison is also creating a $90-million, 150-acre wetland in Del Mar as part of its environmental mitigation, and has built a white sea bass hatchery in Carlsbad. In spite of a complex elevator system to help fish sucked into the plant’s cooling system return to the ocean, the power plant kills an average of 600 tons of fish each year, Kay said.”

Chula Vista is is hoping to increase local fish stocks by placing 350 structures off the shoreline of Bayside Park in Chula Vista.

Called “a-jacks,” the structures are made from concrete and are two feet wide and weigh 78 pounds each… When the project is finished, the Port says there will be about 35 artificial reefs that measure three feet tall and four feet in diameter.

An interesting aspect of the reef is the low cost – just $30,000 for the project. I suspect that is a raw materials cost and that labor is all volunteer, but that is still pretty impressive.

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