With a snip from some oversized scissors, city officials cut the ceremonial ribbon unveiling Redondo Beach’s new drainage system at Alta Vista Park, but the environmental benefits of the $2.2 million project are expected be felt in the water and beaches miles away.
The Alta Vista Park Diversion and Reuse Project will reclaim about 1 million gallons of rain annually that would otherwise be released as polluted stormwater into Santa Monica Bay, Mayor Mike Gin said.
“The water that normally is in this park would have gone down the storm drain and directly into the Pacific Ocean,” he added. “With this project we are able to capture that water, put it in a cistern or detention basin or tank here and use that water for irrigating this park.”
The new system at Alta Vista Park will divert the stormwater from the park’s 100-acre watershed that normally would enter the Pacific Ocean south of the Redondo Beach pier. Instead, water will be collected, treated and stored in a 100,000-gallon underground cistern.
That water will then be used to irrigate landscaping at the park, which is located at Camino Real and Prospect Avenue.
That process has already begun, said Mike Shay, the city’s principal engineer overseeing the project.
“We’ve already been diverting water. When it rained recently, we diverted that water and none of the water that came from that rain, or very little, left this area,” he said.
Federal environmental officials have cited urban stormwater runoff as a major cause of coastal water pollution in Southern California because of bacteria, petroleum products and other debris from streets and sidewalks that are carried through the drains and sewer systems.
That bacterial problem in Santa Monica Bay, in particular, has troubled local government officials as well as environmentalists, said Shay, who likened the Alta Vista project to a pilot program where the effects on reducing ocean bacteria will be closely monitored.
“The major goal of this project was to improve Santa Monica Bay,” Shay said, “but the side benefit is irrigating the park.”
Councilman Matthew Kilroy, who toured the facility for the first time, agreed that the drainage system is important to the city and other coastal communities.
“The primary benefit in my mind is that it keeps polluted stormwater from going to the ocean,” he said.
But Kilroy added that inland communities also need to be involved. “They certainly all contribute to the pollution out in the ocean. We need to get them excited about protecting the ocean as well.”
The project, which is the city’s biggest water quality program, was funded by federal stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The State Water Resources Control Board administered the funds and officials from that agency were among those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We’ve been trying to capture pollutants and trash before they reach the beach,” said Esteban Almanza, deputy director of the board’s Division of Financial Assistance. “This project will help improve the water quality on the beach and lead to fewer closure dates.”
Not all those at Tuesday’s event were linked to the project.
Viktor Sokolov and his 5-year-old daughter Vika also showed up at the news conference. As nearby residents who frequent the park, they had watched the water system being constructed over the months and were finally able to tour the facility and learn more about the project.
“I was curious and heard this had something to do with water,” said the father. “Now I know better. It’s a good project.”