I ♥ LA – LA’s Stormwater Program, That Is!

As Program Manager for the City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program, I’m fortunate enough to have a job that I look forward to doing everyday. I have the pleasure of coming to the office knowing that the work I do is cleaning up our local creeks, rivers, lakes and beaches. Even better, I get to do it surrounded by some of the most committed people I know. Each and every day I am grateful for the level of dedication I see in my staff, who work on cutting edge projects and programs that have made Los Angeles an award-winning leader in the field of stormwater management.

These are exciting times for the City’s Stormwater Program as it enters its third decade, with new projects and technological advances leading the way towards cleaner water. Our proposed Low Impact Development Ordinance is currently in the City Attorney’s office being prepared for final consideration by the City Council and in 2011 we’ll break ground on seven Proposition O-funded projects and complete four others. This is on top of the eleven other water quality improvement projects that are in various phases of design or construction! During this season of good will, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight just a few of the projects that we are most proud of here in the City’s Stormwater Program.

 One of the truly revolutionary projects currently under construction is the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park. Located five miles south of downtown Los Angeles, this nine-acre wetlands park will create a community resource of wetlands and riparian habitat in a densely populated urban area. Trails, boardwalks and educational kiosks will provide visitors with an accessible and quiet refuge within Los Angeles to enjoy and learn about Southern California ecology and the integral role wetlands play in cleaning runoff from storms. Once complete in the spring of 2012, this project will create a new oasis for adults and children alike.

On the other end of the spectrum are the two historic oases Echo Park Lake and Machado Lake. Funded by Proposition O, both projects will kickoff the major rehabilitation process in 2011 that will improve the condition, visual aesthetics and biological diversity of these two lakes. The overall objectives of these two projects are to simultaneously improve water quality and meet the requirements of federal clean water regulations. Once complete in 2013 and 2014 respectively, these will be places enjoyed by lake-lovers, loons and lotuses alike.

A third project that hasn’t received as much attention as the wetlands park or the renewed lakes but deserves a note of recognition is the Green Alleys Project. Kicked off in North Hollywood in early January, this project is a true think-outside-the-box endeavor which is why we’re so excited about it. It takes the relatively simple task of improving City alleys with permeable pavers and turns it into the opportunity to infiltrate storm water runoff. In North Hollywood alone, four alleys slated for reconstruction will infiltrate 30 acre-feet of water – enough for 60 families – every year into the San Fernando Groundwater Basin.

So, I enter 2011 and a new decade grateful for a committed staff who works daily on cutting edge projects, and for the dedicated residents and non-profits who have worked with us to make these projects a reality. As a team, we’ll move these projects forward with the promise of cleaner creeks, rivers, lakes and beaches ahead.What is your 2011 vision for water quality? Any projects that you’re particularly excited about?

Best Regards,

Shahram Kharaghani, Stormwater Program Manager

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