Los Angeles and Santa Monica Find Storm Water Solution

Nov. 9, 2006

The California cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica have cooperated to cost-effectively alleviate pollution caused by urban runoff in parts of both cities.

A dedication ceremony was held for a storm water quality management facility constructed deep beneath Mar Vista Park in western Los Angeles to celebrate the efforts.

Black & Veatch provided design and construction support services for the environmentally friendly, good-neighbor facility, which is owned and operated by the city of Santa Monica.

According to Santa Monica Senior Environmental Analyst Neal Shapiro, the Westside Water Quality Improvement Project (Sawtelle Channel) is a win-win treatment project that improves the quality of runoff draining from the eastern part of Santa Monica and western Los Angeles before it enters the Ballona Creek watershed, which eventually drains into Santa Monica Bay.

The project is a major step in improving local water quality to benefit Santa Monica Bay and local beaches. The new facility treats 100 percent of the dry weather flow (2 to 3 cubic feet per second) by direct filtration, screening and sedimentation. The facility also removes a variety of pollutants, including floating trash, pesticides, oil and grease and heavy metals and up to 36 cfs of wet weather flow by screening and sedimentation from the Sawtelle basin watershed.

Implementation of the project required execution of a first-of-its-kind special intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

“This multi-agency project had to balance jurisdictional needs, competing site uses, construction scheduling and community activities over two years, and rainy seasons,” said Shapiro. “But through intensive and positive cooperation among the neighboring cities, various regulatory agencies, Black & Veatch and Blois Construction, the project was built as conceived and on-time for the betterment of the greater community.”

The new facility, which began operation in late August, works below ground to remove floating trash, sediment, oil and grease, soluble pollutants and dissolved metals from the water flowing through an adjacent major storm drain. The hydraulically efficient facility was designed with no moving parts, chemical additives or electrical power requirements.

Location of the facility under the parking lot of a heavily-used public park posed special design and construction challenges, as did the permitting process. Soccer schedules and other community events were successfully maintained during the nine-month construction period.

“The Westside Water Quality Improvement Project serves as a shining example of how environmental stewardship can be achieved when people work together in a spirit of sustainability,” said Shapiro.

Source: Black & Veatch

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