Nearly 400 tons, about 800,000 pounds, of concrete found a new purpose in helping revitalize marine ecosystems off the coast of eastern Florida. OUC – The Reliable One donated the material to the Starship II artificial reef project in partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Florida, Building Conservation Trust (BCT), Shell Inc. and Volusia County.
Last month, Orlando Utilities Commission transported the concrete from its Indian River Plant in Brevard County to Volusia County via barge. It was deployed alongside 25 tons of granite donated by Shell at Volusia County’s newly permitted reef site, located about 2.75 miles offshore of Lighthouse Point Park in Ponce Inlet. Together, the materials were sunk to create a new habitat and refuge for marine life.
Coordinates for the new OUC reef are: approx. 29° 07.276’N, 80° 53.316’W.
Concrete for the reef came from the site of OUC’s St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center, which is currently under construction.
“We’ve proudly served St. Cloud for 25 years, and our new operations center is a testament to our commitment to that community,” said Linda Ferrone, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer, who also oversees the utility’s sustainability efforts. “This project also goes hand in hand with our sustainability initiatives, as our St. Cloud facility will be the first net-zero campus for a Florida utility. Projects like this allow us to take our efforts beyond our service territory to preserve precious natural resources and help our ocean ecosystem thrive.”
This is the second reef created with concrete from the construction site. In 2019, 400,000 pounds of concrete were repurposed as ballast in the sinking of a cargo ship off the coast of Fort Pierce, OUC’s first partnership in an artificial reef project. In March 2022, OUC donated 50,000 pounds of precast underground utility junction boxes to St. Cloud Fire Rescue to be used in confined-spaces training.
“In conjunction with our partners, we are proud to create another sustainable fishery along Florida’s East Coast,” CCA Florida Executive Director Brian Gorski said. “Protecting marine habitat along with providing recreational anglers and divers access to it is our goal, and today’s deployment is a testament to those efforts.”
In just a few months, the reef will create a live-bottom habitat that will attract and sustain a wide variety of fish, shrimp and crab species for decades.
OUC provides electric and water services to about 400,000 accounts in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties.