The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) just announced the third project to receive an EnvisionTM award for innovative sustainable design. The South Los Angeles Wetlands Park in Los Angeles, CA earned a Platinum Award from ISI for the integrated engineering solution that captured and improved local urban runoff and created a new neighborhood park that will help to revitalize the area. The project is located in a historically underserved area of the city and is the result of Proposition O, a program supported by a series of general obligation bonds. The projects are being implemented to protect public health by removing pollution from the City’s waterways, beaches and the ocean in order to meet its Clean Water Act requirements.
The features of the project that helped the project score highly for sustainability within the Envision framework included remediation of the former Brownfield site, creation of new urban green space, and the design of the park to use urban runoff as a treatment-wetland sustaining resource. The South L.A. Wetlands project ranked very highly in many Envision credit areas including:
Quality of Life: The project enhanced public space and restored site accessibility. Being surrounded by homes and schools, the site made an ideal locale for an urban park with restored natural features and green space. The site was previously inaccessible to the public and surrounded by an eight foot high chain link fence. The project team developed informative way-finding signage located near the entrance of the park, and addressed safety and accessibility in and around the park by providing multiple access and egress points, as well as installing security cameras at the site.
Leadership: The project improved infrastructure integration of the regional storm drain network using water from the storm drain network to sustain the wetland, using a series of stormwater best management practices to enhance the quality of runoff, treating urban runoff from a 525-acre contributing watershed, and adding beneficial park space in the community.
Resource Allocation: The project reduced energy use by installing solar lighting, which reduced energy consumption by 77%. An extensive initial commissioning of the pump stations was conducted to ensure the SCADA system controlling the wetland's low flow and high flow pump systems operated efficiently.
Natural World: The project transformed the previous Brownfield facility into an urban park with amenities including trails, boardwalks, observation decks, picnic areas, and a natural rock garden seating area. A wetland with riparian and emergent marsh habitat was created at the center of a densely-populated urban community, and the land use designation of the site was changed from Light Industrial to Open Space in order to ensure the continued use of the site as a wetlands park. The project incorporates native California plant species, requiring no pesticides or fertilizer. These open water, emergent marsh, riparian and upland plants contribute to wetland habitat restoration and help restore species biodiversity.
Climate and Risk: The project was designed to be resilient and adaptive to the consequences of long-term climate change scenarios, such as extreme flood or drought. Flexible operation features were built in so that the wetlands may be operated differently. Substantial efforts were made to address the effects of potential long-term climate change by constructing a wetlands environment with riparian habitat at the center of a densely populated urban community.