Hammock Coast Edition March/April 2022

35 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com and Sea Hunt Boat Company. A once conspicuous feature of the town’s water system that had loomed over the landscape for 87 years would now be buried beneath the ocean to help support an underwater ecosystem. The project entailed dismantling and cutting up the tower’s metal parts, including the water tank, which was separated into several different pieces. Electrical cables and anything else that couldn’t be utilized in the reef were removed, according to Martore. SCDNR ensures that any components used in an artificial reef are environmentally safe, inspecting for contaminants that might leach out into the water column. Once the Old Village water tank parts were inspected and cleaned, a company named Stevens Towing was hired to tow the artificial reef out to its designated site, located offshore 10 nautical miles from North Edisto River Inlet. It is called the Edisto 60’ reef, a reference to the fact that it is submerged in 60 feet of water, said Martore. Most SCDNR artificial reef projects are funded through federal grants and saltwater fishing license fees, and the CCA also supports numerous projects, but the Edisto 60’ reef project was jointly financed. MP Waterworks paid for the tower dismantling and transporting to Stevens Towing, and CCA covered marine towing costs out to the reef location. Sea Hunt Boat Company donated shipping containers for the structure, and SCDNR handled the permit costs and incidental charges of loading the water tower components onto the barge. GROWING AN ARTIFICIAL REEF While there are “not a lot of natural reefs off of South Carolina” as you might see in Florida or the Caribbean, noted Martore, “there is rock.” And in order to grow a reef, you need a hard substrate or a hard surface to which organisms can attach. As he explained, the sponges and coral larvae find the hard substrate and begin growing on it. “We provide hard substrate, then natural processes take feature The ar t i f i c i a l ree f conta i n i ng the former water tower was towed out on a barge wi th other l arge meta l i tems i nc l ud i ng sh ippi ng conta i ner s , wh i ch were submerged under 60 feet of water.