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Keeping Ballona Creek Clean: Culver City Rain Garden Restoration

Post Date:01/11/2019 12:49 PM

Keeping Culver City's Ballona Creek CleanThe City of Culver City is co-hosting monthly rain garden clean-up events with The Bay Foundation throughout 2019, and details on the first four of the year have been released.  “Through our Rain Garden Restoration events, the City and The Bay Foundation invite members of Culver City’s community to help support a healthy wildlife and environment,” said Thomas Small, Mayor of Culver City. “This is a wonderful hands-on habitat restoration effort to maintain one of our treasured spots: Ballona Creek. I applaud volunteers for their contribution to our community.”

Each Culver City Rain Garden Restoration will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the following Saturdays:

  • January 12
  • February 23
  • March 23
  • April 13

This Culver City Rain Garden captures rain and surface runoff, filters noxious contaminants that would otherwise flow into the Ballona Creek and beautifies the urban landscape. Volunteers will be responsible for weeding, watering and maintaining the gardens to keep local waterways clean and support newly-planted natives. Volunteers may receive community service credit for their hours of service.

The entrance to the volunteer site is at the end of Pearson Street at Ballona Creek.  Since the site doesn't have an actual address, 10101 Jefferson Boulevard is provided for GPS-purposes. Gloves and tools will be provided. Volunteers are encouraged to bring water, snacks and sunscreen as well as required to wear close-toed shoes.

Ballona Creek WildlifeSign up to volunteer or learn more about the event.

Watch a video about the work The Bay Foundation has done here in Culver City.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens when it rains?

Car brake dust, lawn fertilizers, oils, and pesticides, along with cigarette butts, litter and animal feces, are picked up and carried by rainwater into storm drains and to creeks, bays and the ocean. Even in dry weather, these items end up in the storm drains partially due to irrigation water runoff. Here in Culver City, most runoff water heads to Ballona Creek. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board considers Ballona Creek “impaired” because of the presence of several pollutants, including fecal coliform, heavy metals and pesticides.

Sometimes referred to as a drainage basin, a watershed is an area of land that naturally drains to a common outlet. Ballona Creek discharges to Santa Monica Bay. The watershed includes all or parts of the cities of Culver City, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, as well as part of unincorporated Los Angeles County. (A small portion of Culver City is in the Marina del Rey watershed as well.)

Historically, Ballona Creek was a much different watershed than it is today. Researchers believe that the watershed was home to 14,000 acres of wetlands, featuring meadows, freshwater ponds and thickets of willow trees. Today, Ballona Creek is a nine-mile long flood protection channel that drains an area from the Santa Monica Mountains on the north, the Harbor Freeway (110) on the east and the Baldwin Hills on the south. The Ballona Creek watershed totals about 130 square miles. Within the watershed, more than three-quarters of the land is developed for residential, commercial and industrial uses and almost half is covered by road, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces.

What is Culver City doing to reduce pollution in local watersheds?

Because of the density of development in the Ballona Creek watershed and the minimal amount of open space, pollutants build up in Ballona Creek. During dry weather, there is a low amount of water flow in the creek and pollutants concentrate. During rainstorms, the creek fills rapidly, picking up all pollutants and carrying them out to the bay. Because of this rapid movement of pollutants, the beginning of a rainstorm is referred to as a “first flush” of the stormwater system. Public Works Environmental Programs and Operations is taking part in several projects to create solutions that reduce the level of pollutants in Ballona Creek and other area watersheds.

  1. Culver Boulevard Realignment and Stormwater Treatment Project: A regional stormwater project in the Ballona Creek watershed located along Culver Boulevard, between Sepulveda Boulevard and Elenda Street. The proposed Stormwater Treatment component of this project would construct an underground urban and stormwater run-off treatment system that diverts, captures and treats urban and stormwater run-off from two major storm drains intersecting at Sepulveda Boulevard and Harter Avenue. A portion of the captured run-off will be used to supplement the irrigation needs of the landscape medians along the project limits. The remaining captured runoff will be treated and discharged back into the storm drain system as clean run-off. The project is anticipated to break ground in June 2019. The stormwater treatment component of the project is funded by Measure CW, Prop 1 and Prop 84 grants.
  2. Transfer Station Stormwater Diversion Project: During the operation of Culver City’s Transfer Station, refuse and recycling collection trucks carry in pollutants, such as bacteria, sediments, metals, trash, oil and grease. An onsite urban and stormwater run-off diversion system was installed which prevents pollutant from discharging to Ballona Creek by sending the first flush of stormwater into two underground storage tanks. From there, the captured runoff is diverted to the sanitary sewer system and sent to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant for treatment.
  3. Transfer Station Rain Garden: Rain gardens were also installed at the Transfer Station to include cisterns and bio-filter planters that are above ground. The cisterns capture rainwater from the Transfer Station roof which is used to supplement the irrigation needs of the rain gardens. Any overflow from the roof run-off enters the above ground bio-filter and discharges the treated run-off into the rain garden for infiltration thereby reducing the runoff into the storm drain system. Overflow from the rain garden discharges to a storm drain as clean runoff.
  4. Washington Boulevard Stormwater and Urban Runoff Diversion Project: A regional stormwater project in the Marina del Rey watershed located along Washington Boulevard just west of Lincoln Avenue at Carter Avenue (within the City of Los Angeles) and Redwood Avenue (Culver City) to the east. This project will capture urban and stormwater runoff from a drainage area of approximately 40 acres in Culver City. The captured runoff will be stored in an underground storage chamber where it will be pumped to the sanitary sewer system and conveyed to Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant for treatment. The project is anticipated to break ground in June 2019. The project is being jointly funded by the Costco and the City’s Measure CW, to include Prop A grant funds from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District.

What are the benefits of rain gardens?

  • Water Conservation: Directing runoff water to areas where it can naturally water plants reduces irrigation needs.
  • Groundwater Recharge: Allowing more water to sink into the soil helps to refill our underground aquifers.
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