In association with the rehabilitation/construction of Bonner Bridge (B-2500) in North Carolina’s Oregon Inlet, NCDOT chose to install an innovative “living” reef to promote submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) rather than implement standard mitigation practices.

The approximately four-foot-high, 500-foot-long, reef ecosystem structure will provide an estimated 0.3-acres of hard surface habitat for seagrass, algae, oysters, and other aquatic life and will help satisfy recent Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permitting requirements.

After installation of the reef by contractor CSA Ocean Sciences, SEPI was selected by NCDOT’s Natural Environment Section to conduct post-construction monitoring and reporting for the living structure. Yearly surveys will be conducted to measure SAV growth and to determine the type and number of organisms using the structure.

SEPI environmental scientists are responsible for identifying monitoring stations, establishing a scour measurement baseline, collecting water quality parameters, measuring scour depths, and conducting structural inspections.

Additional tasks include installing safety signage, photo documentation of subsided units, and video review of scour monitoring stations and subsided units.