From downtown bus yard to community water park

Sensemaking / From downtown bus yard to community water park

A bus maintenance yard in Los Angeles has been transformed into a wetlands park, providing a habitat for wildlife and numerous benefits for the local community.

12 Dec 2012

A bus maintenance yard in Los Angeles has been transformed into a wetlands park, providing a habitat for wildlife and numerous benefits for the local community.

A 9-acre bus maintenance yard in Los Angeles has been transformed into a stormwater wetlands park and community asset. The South Los Angeles Wetland Park was officially opened this February as part of a city-wide initiative to improve water quality, clean up pollution, provide habitat for wildlife and bring benefits to the community.

The park is an important part of the city’s work to meet legal requirements for water quality, and treats runoff from the surrounding urban area which then drains into the Los Angeles River. Stormwater is passed through a treatment facility to filter out rubbish and chemicals, and is held in pools while bacteria clean the water of any remaining pollutants.

The park also provides a green space for local residents, with walkways, wildlife viewing and educational facilities. Michelle Vargas, Department of Public Works, Los Angeles, says: “We have seen people from the neighbourhood come by and walk around the wetlands. This area used to be blighted and fenced up. Now, it’s a green space that is enjoyed by the community.”

One of the project’s objectives was to create a habitat for wildlife, and it is already being used by birds, with numbers expected to increase over time. The park was planted with drought tolerant vegetation native to California, and is expected to be fully grown by 2013.

Michael S. Rolband, President of Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc, says: “Urban wetlands can protect our built environment and improve water quality, but their greatest benefit is for education. They allow people to gain ecological values, helping them understand the relationship between the wetland environment, water quality, and preservation of habitat for wildlife.”

The South Los Angeles Wetland Park is part of Proposition O, a $500 million initiative through which the City of Los Angeles funds projects to improve water quality, clean up pollution, provide habitat for wildlife and protect public health. Proposition O provided $8.1 million of the $26 million budget for the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. Additional funds came from LA Sewers, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the US EPA Brownfields Grant. – Rebecca Nesbit

Photo: City of Los Angeles, LA Stormwater Program

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