Solving Cities

New wetland park in L.A. revives industrial blight

Posting in Cities

A new wetland park in Los Angeles could be a model of how cities should treat polluted runoff.

To fight industrial blight and clean millions of gallons of water, Los Angeles recently opened the South Los Angeles Wetland Park.

The nine-acre park replaces an old bus yard and will provide much needed green space in a struggling industrial neighborhood, Los Angeles Times reports:

City officials say decades of lax zoning practices have left many of the area's residential streets blighted with warehouses, mechanic shops and scrap yards. The new park replaces one of those industrial islands with a novel feat of urban landscape design.

Unlike most parks, which feature green lawns and picnic tables, this one is composed of walking paths, native plants and several kidney-shaped pools filled with storm water. Naturally occurring bacteria clean pollutants from the water, which eventually feeds into a storm drain.

John Kemmerer, associate director of the water division at the Environmental Protection Agency, said the park is a model of how cities should treat polluted runoff.

Admittedly, the new park (in the photo above) doesn't look like much of a model for anything, but soon the park will look like it's been a fixture in the neighborhood for years, City Councilwoman Jan Perry told the Times. Here's a rendering of what the project will look like in years to come:

KCET provides further insight into how the wetlands will cleanup stormwater:

Storm water arriving by a pipe drain under San Pedro is detoured into a small treatment facility that filters away trash and chemicals, such as oil from city streets. The water then takes a circular trip in an underground pipe around the park before being delivered into the pools, where bacteria naturally cleans up the remaining pollutants. The cleaner water is sent on its way to the Los Angeles River where it makes its way to the ocean.

During a hard rain, this artificial wetland can handle up to 680,000 gallons of stormwater per day.

The park is part of an initiative by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cleanup the Los Angeles River watershed, through the Urban Water Federal Partnership Pilot. The project has identified urban waterways in need of cleanup in D.C., Baltimore, Denver, New York, and New Orleans.

Top image: The City Project/Flickr

Bottom image: City of Los Angeles

Share this

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure