Restoring a Link to Nature: On the fast track with South Los Angeles Wetlands Park


Photo: Psomas. Artist’s rendition of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. The park will feature trails, boardwalks, and observation decks.

Los Angeles, CA, is a city famous for its pavement. What other city lauds a mere concrete slab as a notable tourist attraction? However, apart from the landmark Hollywood Walk of Fame, life, like the concrete, can be a little harder. Mile upon mile of freeways and boulevards, punctuated by parking lots and service facilities, sprawl over the region, distancing residents from the pleasures and benefits only nature can provide.

Until recently, public works departments across the country have shown a similar affinity for pavement, as have the road builders and developers. Sean Vargas, senior project manager with Psomas Engineering, says the rationale “was basically flood control. You were just trying to prevent a capital flood from causing damage to public health and safety. They were just draining these very highly urbanized watersheds to paved channels and discharging directly into the ocean, with no treatment.” The same was true in Los Angeles.

Thus, untreated stormwater, carrying with it metals from the roadways, nutrients, bacteria, and other contaminants, flowed right to the oceanfront beaches, making the region’s parks even less safe and less accessible.

Los Angeles was saddled with two major quality of life problems: a critical parks deficit within the city, and severely polluted stormwater flowing from city streets and storm drains into the rivers and beaches.

Read more about the development of the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park

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