The San Diego County Water Authority today announced the completion of its first wetland creation project, eight acres at the northeast end of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas. The project has restored the former wetland, which had been damaged from years of farming and grazing.
“With the heavy winter rains, we are especially proud of the fact that this project was completed on time,” said Hubert Zecha, wetlands project manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “We completed the construction in time to avoid the nesting season for endangered birds in the reserve.”
Started in October 2004, the $1 million project included removing nonnative plant species that posed a threat to the quality of the wetland habitat (including mustard, pampas grass and nonnative acacia) and relocating the smaller Torrey pine trees, which were not indigenous to the area, and donating them to the San Diego County Parks and Recreation.
The project also included creating channels, ponds and hummocks, mimicking a wetland habitat. This facilitates the development of diverse patches of wetland vegetation. The Water Authority seeded the site with native plants (including isocoma scrub, southern willow scrub and marsh plant species) and installed a temporary irrigation system to help get the new plants off to a healthy start.
The wetland creation project is part of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Emergency Storage Project, which will ensure San Diego has enough water in case of a natural disaster or some other interruption in our imported water supply. Since the Emergency Storage Project involves constructing new water pipelines, pumping stations and other infrastructure throughout the region, the San Diego County Water Authority is managing environmental projects similar to this to offset environmental impacts caused by construction.
“The wetland project is a win-win for the region,” said Zecha. “It creates important habitat for wildlife while supporting the Emergency Storage Project, which will protect our region’s $142 billion economy and quality of life by ensuring a reliable water supply during a natural disaster or other emergency.”
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