It’s been decades of design, and years of construction, but the Stormwater Project on Culver Boulevard is complete. Underneath a beautiful new bike path is an engineering accomplishment of epic proportions. Now, all we need is rain.
At a June 30, 2022 event in Culver City, the West Basin Municipal Water District and City of Culver City co-hosted an event celebrating the benefits and water savings that the Culver Boulevard Stormwater Capture Project will achieve in the months and years ahead. The scope of the success is vast, and the simplicity of the native plants and bike path are a modest public face on an era-defining public project.
The dignitaries and elected officials who spoke, including West Basin’s Scott Houston, Mayor Dr. Daniel Lee, Culver City’s Public Works Director Yanni Demitri, Council member Yasmine Imani McMorrin, Beverly Hills Council member John Mirisch, West Basin Metropolitan Chairwoman Gloria Gray, and Ballona Creek Renaissance’s Deborah Gregory all praised the completion of the holding and filtration system that will keep untreated street runoff from Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay.
The new facility can treat up to 19 acre-feet of water per storm from an almost 800-acre watershed drainage area. The project consists of underground storm drain diversion, pretreatment and settling areas, storage, a pump station, and discharge filters to existing storm drains. The primary goal of the stormwater capture facility is to utilize subsurface infiltration galleries to treat and reuse captured runoff for landscape irrigation, while significantly reducing pollutants entering into local watersheds.
“In order to protect bodies of water like Ballona Creek and conserve precious rain water, Culver City continues to make significant investments to advance stormwater quality and projects,” said Mayor Lee. “Projects like ours not only captures valuable stormwater runoff for reuse, but also beautifies our community. In addition, we serve as a positive example of a multi-benefit, multi-partner stormwater capture project that increases water supply, improves water quality, and provides community enhancements.
The neighbors, including CCUSD School Board member Paula Amazola, we glad to see it all done. “It was a lot, with the construction noise and everyone working at home during the pandemic, but the public benefits will be worth it, especially in the long run.”
The addition of 150 trees and 30,000 new native plants added as landscaping make the re-designed bike path a showcase of urban design.
Mate Gaspar, the project’s Engineering Services Manager, told a tale stretching back 40 years, to the Pacific Red Car that ran down Venice Boulevard, the re-designation of the right-of-way as a possible sight for housing, and it’s evolution to the current status as a stormwater project that is a model for the region.
The nearly $14 million stormwater project was funded by various contributors including: Culver City Measure CW funds (~$1.4 million); city of Beverly Hills contributions for construction costs (~$3.5M); Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Prop 1 and 84 grants (~$7.7 million); Metropolitan Water District of Southern California $500,000 grant from its Stormwater for Recharge Pilot Program; and Caltrans funding (~$525,000). Overall, the entire project, including stormwater, street realignment, and new landscaping elements, totaled approx. $20 million.
Houston, who represents Culver City’s region for the West Basin, stated, “[This is] truly a collaborative effort that can serve as a model for regional partnership and water stewardship and exemplifies multiple agency coordination to address local water supply sustainability and pollution control. West Basin commends Culver City and this project for better preparing our service area to capture local water supplies as we face recurring droughts and uncertainties associated with climate change.”
Gregory offered the crowd an anecdote about an elderly neighbor, who said she used to go skinny-dipping in the creek when she was young. “Can we even imagine? Anyone here want to consider?” But she turned to the hopeful future that the project will help to foster, by irrigating the landscape with captured water, and keeping the pollution out of the watershed. “Now, all we need is rain. Let it rain!”
To learn more about Metropolitan’s stormwater capture pilot programs, visit: www.mwdh2o.com/funding-opportunities.
Additional text by Amy Rocha
Photo L to R – Mayor Daniel Lee, WB Chairwoman Gloria Grey, WB Director Scott Houston