When the Public Utilities Department's construction activities disturb native habitats, resource agencies often require mitigation in the form of habitat restoration. Habitat restoration is a complex process that involves the restoration of areas disturbed by construction to the habitats that naturally occurred in the areas before construction.
The process is complex because native plants are extremely difficult to propagate in nurseries and often have limited success when transplanted in the field. In addition, soil, nutrients and water requirements for native plants are very specific and difficult to duplicate.
The Wastewater Branch currently has many major habitat restoration projects in progress. Habitat restoration projects require a minimum of three years of maintenance and monitoring after installation. The resource agencies hold a performance bond until they deem the project successful, meaning that the plants have achieved a certain height and density, are self sustaining (without nutrient and irrigation additions) and are being used by indigenous wildlife species.
San Diego County is home to more threatened or endangered species than anywhere else in the continental United States. The Wastewater Branch's mitigation plans have minimized disruption of the environment during construction by protecting wetlands, working around the breeding seasons of endangered birds, and replanting and revegetating affected land to increase habitat quantity and quality.