On September 30, a professional dive and engineering crew began the removal process of the artificial surfing reef off the coast of El Segundo, CA. Built in 2000, the artificial reef was built as mitigation for lost surfing resources when Chevron constructed a groin at the El Segundo Refinery, and surfing at Grand Avenue was adversely impacted; a determination made by the California Coastal Commission. The experimental reef was permitted for a 10-year period ending in 2010.

As the quality of the surf break has not improved from the construction of the artificial surfing reef, and that some of the geotextile bags that make up the artificial reef are beginning to deteriorate, the Surfrider Foundation believes that the removal of this artificial reef is necessary to be consistent with its mission to protect the world’s oceans, waves and beaches.

”The Surfrider Foundation is going to great lengths to meet our environmental permit obligations,” says Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director Chad Nelsen. “We put something experimental in the ocean and it didn’t work, so it is time for us to get that foreign material out of the marine environment”.

While the artificial surf reef did little to improve the surf break at El Segundo, the project highlighted the need for protection of existing surf breaks, and helped the California Coastal Commission recognize surfing breaks as natural recreational resources that are worthy of protection.

”This case was monumental because it was the first time that the Coastal Commission directly recognized a surfing area as a natural recreational resource,” says Nelsen. “Many other surf spots throughout California have benefited from that historic decision in El Segundo.”

The removal of the artificial surfing reef is directed by Coastal Frontiers Corporation, a Los Angeles-based coastal engineering firm with extensive experience in the installation and removal of geotextile containers in the marine environment. American Marine Corporation is supplying the highly trained dive crew that is conducting the underwater portion of the removal process. Morrissey Construction Company is working on the landside of the operation and will pull the bags ashore and oversee their proper disposal.