Former Landfill Brings Three Pillars of Sustainability Concept to Life
By Michael Pollard, PE, ENV SP
Today, projects that manage the quantity and quality of urban runoff must be viewed in the larger context of respecting stormwater as a resource. Projects that do this result in multiple benefits to the communities in which they are located.
A perfect example is in Los Angeles County’s San Fernando Valley, where plans are underway to transform the site of what was once a 46-acre, inert material landfill into a multi-purpose stormwater management facility.
Known as the Rory M. Shaw Wetland Park, the project embodies the ever-evolving concept of sustainability by respecting the environment, the economy, and society for the benefit of current and future generations. The project is introducing a host of social and municipal benefits: flood risk management, improved watershed health, groundwater recharge, active and passive park space, increased wildlife habitat, and educational opportunities. It is one of several projects in the Sun Valley Watershed Master Plan that recently received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s (ISI) Envision™ Platinum Award.
Psomas is the prime consultant responsible for the overall project design and direction of the consultant team, working with Christine Wartman, the Los Angeles County project manager.
The underlying purpose of the project is cleaning up urban runoff, improving the quality of local receiving waters, and increasing flood protection. The project went further by selecting a former landfill site and repurposing it to feature a “green”, native-habitat-rich treatment approach. Environmental benefits of the project include:
Stormwater capture and pretreatment: To provide relief to a community that regularly floods when it rains, runoff will be captured from a 929-acre tributary area in the Sun Valley Watershed and collected in a 21-acre detention basin.
Stormwater Detention: The detention basin will provide improved flood protection with a storage capability of approximately 400 acre-feet.
Constructed Treatment Wetlands: Pre-treated stormwater will be pumped through a series of two wetlands to provide physical removal of pollutants via filtration and settling and biological removal through natural processes. The wetlands will also provide valuable habitat for migrating waterfowl and other wildlife.
Groundwater Replenishment: From the wetlands, treated stormwater will be pumped to an existing groundwater infiltration system, which will contribute to aquifer recharge thereby providing a future drinking water source.
The project will result in important economic and social benefits to the neighboring community—the most obvious being the conversion of a former landfill into a beautiful community-serving amenity. The multi-use park will provide a wide range of recreational features, including new basketball courts, tennis courts, a soccer field, fitness stations, and trails, an amphitheater, and other amenities.
A host of short-term and long-term economic benefits will stem from the project, including job creation and increased local and regional property values.
The Rory Shaw Wetland Park exemplifies the balanced and systematic consideration of environmental, social, and economic objectives in a sustainable project that uses stormwater as a resource to benefit the local community for generations to come. This is a model that deserves replication across the nation.
Michael Pollard, PE, ENV SP, is the project manager for Psomas on the Rory Shaw Project.