I wonder if Edison or the State will decide it will be closed to recreational fishing to expand their fish count? e under construction… NEWS Expanded kelp reef could be under construction in August off San Clemente This is how it looked in 2008 when Southern California Edison dumped quarry rock from Catalina Island onto the ocean floor and creating a 174-acre kelp forest off San Clemente. (Photo courtesy Southern California Edison) By FRED SWEGLES | [email protected] | Orange County Register PUBLISHED: February 7, 2018 at 1:24 pm | UPDATED: February 7, 2018 at 1:28 pm 1 of 4 A 2010 photo shows a fishing boat working the edge of a kelp reef built in 2008 by Southern California Edison on the ocean floor off San Clemente. Edison is proposing to double the 174-acre reef to meet requirements of the Coastal Commission on Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. (File photo by Jebb Harris, Orange County Register/SCNG) Barges could appear off San Clemente as early as August to begin dumping 150,000 tons of quarry rock onto the ocean floor. Southern California Edison plans to more than double the size of a kelp reef that the utility company built in 2008 off San Clemente. That 174-acre artificial reef is a half-mile offshore, extending south from the San Clemente Pier almost to San Mateo Point. The new reef, if approved by the State Lands Commission, would run north from the pier toward San Clemente’s boundary with Dana Point. The utility would dump quarry rock expecting kelp to attach to it, grow to the surface and establish a kelp forest to attract fish. The goal is to offset a reduction in the fish population off San Onofre said to have been caused in the 1980s by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s saltwater cooling system. A study said that sandy water was expelled onto the ocean floor, degrading San Onofre’s kelp reef. The commission subsequently required Edison to build a 150-acre artificial reef a half-mile off San Clemente. Edison ended up building a 174-acre reef. While the San Clemente reef produces a healthy volume of kelp, officials said the habitat isn’t creating a big enough fish population to satisfy a Coastal Commission permit. So Edison proposes a bigger reef. At a public meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, officials described Edison’s plan as a new 200-acre reef right next to the existing one, in waters 35 to 45 feet deep. Edison invested $45 million into decades of studies, design and construction of the original reef. This new reef, modeled after the first one, will cost about $20 million, said Patrick Tennant, Edison’s manager of mitigation and restoration. The Coastal Commission permit requires Edison’s reef – whatever the size – to sustain new population of 28 tons of fish. The Coastal Commission hires scientists from UC Santa Barbara to monitor the reef, and Edison must demonstrate a sufficient fish population from year to year for 30 years to match the number of years that two nuclear reactors operated. Edison retired the power plant in 2013. Since 2008, Edison’ reef has not been credited with a single year of compliance. Tennant said Edison hopes the expanded reef can consistently meet the Coastal Commission’s standard and fulfill the permit’s requirement in 30 years. At present, Edison is paying $1.5 million per year to monitor year-to-year failures to reach 28 tons, with no end in sight. Edison and co-owners of the San Onofre power plant are responsible for the costs – Edison 78 percent, San Diego Gas & Electric 20 percent and Riverside almost 2 percent, Tennant said. At the Feb. 6 meeting, the public was invited to raise questions to be examined in an environmental analysis of Edison’s plan. San Clemente boaters Ken Nielsen and Jim Dahl questioned what Edison will do if doubling the reef doesn’t prove enough. They suggested that building a taller reef would attract more fish than just building more of the same low-relief rock to grow kelp, as Edison did earlier. “When I want to fish in an area for fish, I don’t go to low-relief,” Nielsen said. “I go to high-relief.” Katie Day, representing the Surfrider Foundation, asked the study to consider impacts to the shoreline and surf breaks and to sea life during construction. The State Lands Commission, which commissioned the environmental study, will accept public comments until Feb. 20. Write to [email protected]. The next workshop is set for 1:30 p.m. April 9 at the Ocean Institute. Tennant said Edison hopes to obtain permits in time to get some of the reef built in August and September. The utility can’t dump rocks beyond September due to lobster season, so work would resume in 2019. If the permit process takes too long to get any work done this year, Edison will build the entire reef in 2019, Tennant said.