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After 7 Decades, Ocean Water Flows into San Dieguito Lagoon

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The San Dieguito Lagoon may be teeming with wildlife in a few years. The lagoon near the Del Mar Fairgrounds is now open to the Pacific Ocean. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce tells us it's a major milestone i

After 7 Decades, Ocean Water Flows into San Dieguito Lagoon

The San Dieguito Lagoon may be teeming with wildlife in a few years. The lagoon near the Del Mar Fairgrounds is now open to the Pacific Ocean.  KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce tells us it's a major milestone in the effort to restore the wetlands.

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Ocean water flowed into the San Dieguito Lagoon for the first time in seven decades when an excavator - think bulldozer only larger - scooped away the last part of a temporary earthen dam. The Pacific Ocean flowed in from the west, mixing with groundwater in the 40-acre lagoon. 

Ecologist Steven Schroeter says restoring the connection to the sea is a major step to create a breeding habitat for wildlife.

Schroeter: So what's going to happen is right away you're going to get fish coming in here. And then you're going to get you know, all kinds of marine organisms colonizing and they're going to be kind of the food base for a lot of other things...and birds.

Biologists expect that several bird species will be attracted to the lagoon.

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Project Manager Samir Tanious says the next step includes planting more than 350,000 plants.

Tanious: And then after that we're going to head on to do some more work on the inlet, the inlet dredging and excavation of the inlet to open it from now on, in perpetuity to the ocean. To keep this kind of exchange for all year round.

By exchange he means the twice daily tides that will flow in and out from the ocean.

Southern California Edison is paying for the $86 million project to compensate for fish killed at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The project should be finished by the end of next year.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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