On Thursday, March 25, San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy and City Council members Michael Zucchet and Scott Peters led a formal ribbon-cutting for the city's Metropolitan Wastewater Department's new Environmental Monitoring & Technical Services Laboratory at the former Naval Training Center (NTC) on Kincaid Road.
The new laboratory building is dedicated to the memory of the late Mia J. Tegner, a research biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Tegner's scientific work in the local coastal waters was significant in the understanding of local ocean ecology and its relationship to human activities.
"Mia Tegner dedicated more than 25 years of work to the ecology of the kelp beds off Point Loma in San Diego, and her research gave us new insight into this fascinating and ecologically significant area," said Charles Kennel, director of Scripps Institution. "She was a pioneer and one of the first to build strong bridges of trust between the science and management communities. This bridge now enables science-based decision making in San Diego."
Kennel also noted that Scripps is leading an effort to organize the southern California region in making coastal research data-such as the work that will be done at the new facility-more accessible to policy makers and resource managers.
Tegner's main scientific research focused on the ecology of kelp forest communities and nearshore marine resources. She worked extensively on sea urchin natural history and
population dynamics, the ecology and restoration of abalone populations in southern California, and the effects of disturbances and climate change on kelp communities. She studied the Point Loma kelp beds for almost three decades, and her longtime series of observations has been instrumental to scientists' understanding of the effects of ocean climate on nearshore ecosystems.
Tegner's research also included studies of the effects of El Niño and La Niña events on the plants and animals of the kelp ecosystem. One project focused on the reproductive response of abalone populations to warm water, and how to incorporate environmental variability into fisheries management.
The 37,000-square-foot laboratory will support the city's Ocean Monitoring Program, the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the world. The new facility will house 52 scientists and support staff.
"This laboratory is a much-needed facility that will enhance the city's ability to monitor and protect the ocean environment, consistent with my goal of cleaning up our beaches and bays," said Mayor Murphy.
Councilmember Peters concurred. "Beaches and ocean recreation are a huge contributor to our quality of life and tourist economy," Peters said. "The knowledge we gain from this laboratory will help us to sort out the facts about how to keep our ocean water clean."
The city's Metropolitan Wastewater Department oversaw design of the facility by the firm of Helmuth Obata Kassalbaum (HOK). Kvaas Constructors was the contractor on the project.
According to Metropolitan Wastewater Department Director Scott Tulloch, the laboratory building will serve a wide variety of environmental monitoring functions. "The new facility will allow us to be more efficient and to be better prepared for new challenges in the future."
Along with administrative offices, the building will house wastewater research facilities, laboratories for marine biology, microbiology and water toxicity, regulatory permitting and compliance offices, and an ocean operations facility that will eventually include both of the department's ocean monitoring vessels.