CARLSBAD, Calif. — A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Friday to commemorate the start of construction on the Otay River Estuary Restoration Project, according to a press release by seawater desalination developer Poseidon Resources.

The project, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will create, restore and enhance approximately 125 acres of coastal wetland and salt marsh habitat in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge to protect native fish, wildlife and plant species.

“It is more important now than ever to protect and preserve our coastal environment,” said George Dowden, President of the Friends of San Diego Wildlife Refuges. “We applaud Poseidon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their continued dedication to preserving our beautiful coastline and promoting environmental sustainability.”

Sachin Chawla, President of Poseidon Resources, gives remarks during a ceremony to kickoff the the Otay River Estuary Restoration Project. (Photo released by Poseidon Resources)

San Diego Bay is home to several threatened and endangered wildlife species who depend on the mudflats and salt marshes that have slowly been lost over the years, Poseidon Resources noted.

The project will restore former and active salt ponds within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to return the habitat to its natural condition, according to the press release.

“This project builds upon the Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s long history of preserving our coastal environment,” said Poseidon President, Sachin Chawla. “We remain committed to being stewards of the environment and helping San Diego County have a sustainable and local water supply for decades.”

Officials said the long-term goal of the project is to create a natural habitat for colonial nesting seabirds, migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and salt marsh-dependent species.

The Otay River Estuary Restoration Project is expected to be completed in approximately four years, said Poseidon Resources.