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Environmental group to use concrete for oyster reefs in Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven River

Environmentalists will bring 5,000 tons of crushed concrete onto the river on a barge, blow it into the water, and cover that one-foot-tall reef with baby oysters.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from a series about the health of the Chesapeake Bay that first aired in May 2021.

A Virginia Beach environmental group is preparing to build concrete oyster reefs at the bottom of the Lynnhaven River.

A spokeswoman for the group, Morgan Schmidtendorff, said this would be the first time Lynnhaven River NOW used concrete in a project like this.

It's not one solid block. Environmentalists will bring 5,000 tons of crushed concrete out onto the river on a barge, blow it into the water, and cover that one-foot-tall reef with baby oysters (or "spat").

Natural oyster reefs are comprised of oyster shells that stuck together over years, but shells are in short supply, and this is a faster way to establish a reef.

"Oysters on sanctuary reefs not only filter pollution from the water, but they also add beneficial marine habitat and increase the Lynnhaven River native oyster population," Schmidtendorff wrote.

Each individual adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Lynnhaven River NOW is working with CBF and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build reefs in Pleasure House Creek, and the eastern and western branches of the Lynnhaven River.

The reefs should be set up in the water by late spring, and will bring the total area of sanctuary reefs there up to 128 acres.