Urban Wetlands In Los Angeles

This week, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry took me on a tour of two urban wetland sites in South Los Angeles, one under construction and one fully built out. 

The 9-acre site under construction at 54th and Avalon is an old MTA bus repair area.  Councilwoman Perry’s office rounded up $26 million in funding to turn it into an innovative engineered wetland that will divert stormwater from an existing storm drain, run it through a hydrodynamic separator to remove oil, grease and trash, and transport it into a three-cell wetland for pollutant removal before the water returns to a downstream storm drain. Here is a photo of the construction site, with a new high school across the street:

Construction site, school.jpgHere is another construction photo, giving some scale for the project:

Construction site looking East.jpg

Here is a rendering of what the built-out park will look like:

Proposed new park.jpg

After seeing this promising area, we went to a nearby site where the promise has been fulfilled:  Augustus F. Hawkins Nature Park at Compton and Slauson in South LA.  Formerly a pipe storage yard, there is now an 8.5 acre park that includes a 0.5 acre engineered wetland, the first of its kind in the City of Los Angeles.  The wetland is surrounded by cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, cattails and yellow pond lilies and has two islands where ducks and other waterfowl can nest. 

Here is a photo of a dramatic faceoff between two ducks and a turtle:

ducks v. turtle faceoff, Hawkins park.jpg

 And another giving a view of the wetlands that I'd never known existed in urban LA:

Wetland, Hawkins park.jpg

Our natural wetlands are disappearing in California.  With innovative urban projects like these two in South Los Angeles, everyone wins:  polluted stormwater is cleaned, rare habitat created and more parkland developed in an underserved area. 

About the Authors

David Pettit

Senior Attorney, Southern California Air program

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