VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- City of Virginia Beach and Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, hosted Virginia Sen. Bill DeSteph, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Broad Bay Civic League members on a tour of the proposed area for the Lynnhaven River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Project, Phase 2: Reef on Oct. at Broad Bay here.
During a civic league meeting this summer, locals to the project area expressed concern: Will the reef structures the city and Army Corps use to restore biodiversity in the Lynnhaven River, in turn, have a negative impact on navigation, recreation and safety?
The league reached out to DeSteph with their apprehensions.
Mike Darrow, Norfolk District deputy district engineer, extended an invitation for them to view the project firsthand.
The senator along with former and current civic league presidents, Chuck Mehle and Norman Lyster, accepted the offer.
Darrow stated that the goal was to provide clear and accurate information, allowing the community to understand the project without bias or misunderstanding.
Heather Lockwood, Norfolk District project manager, said the project delivery team consulted with technical experts to ensure thedesign parameters used for this project are suitable for the area.
“We hosted a design charette to discuss our reef design in Broad Bay , and made sure we were using up to date restoration techniques to construct a sustainable reef and fish habitat project,” she said.
The project delivery team began by explaining the overall goals. They continued by hearing concerns and answering questions regarding the USACE process of selecting substrate material – which will consist of rock and oyster shell – as well as the installation and subsequent monitoring of the 12-inch-tall reef across 25 acres of Broad Bay.
Aboard a USACE survey vessel, operations team members then navigated the group around the proposed restoration area and employing sonar equipment to show real-time depth. The data was used to verify the project team’s determinations that the proposed reef will not impact navigation and recreation activities despite tidal depth.
“The reef will be completely submerged no matter what the tidal cycle is,” Lockwood said.
The joint permit application for this reef project was submitted to Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and neighbors to Broad Bay will be receiving a letter from VMRC requesting comments. The project team also intends on attending the next civic league meeting to continue offering information and fielding public queries, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m., All Saints' Episcopal Church, 1969 Woodside Ln.