Brief Project Description: Water bodies and waterways in the City of Los Angeles are commonly impacted by elevated levels of water pollution from a variety of sources such as urban runoff and animal waste. Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, the California Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of implementing limits to these pollutant levels to limit impairment.
These limits known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) regulate a variety of water pollutants and require local governments to better manage the sources of those pollutants within their jurisdictions through the implementation of best management practices. In the City of Los Angeles, the Bureau of Sanitation is charged with ensuring compliance with the TMDLs. Water quality improvements to our urban lakes will provide a direct benefit to our local receiving waters.
Existing Water Quality Monitoring
There is currently no unified program for monitoring the water quality of all the urban lakes in the City of Los Angeles. Four of the 24 urban lakes are monitored routinely:
Echo Park Lake [Floating Wetlands]
The City of Los Angeles’ Watershed Protection Division (WPD) has monitored Echo Park Lake on a monthly basis for concentrations of indicator bacteria since May 2002. Additionally, on a quarterly basis WPD monitors Echo Park Lake for concentrations of metals and chemical nutrients dissolved in water (chemical nutrients may be loosely described as “fertilizers”, including chemicals commonly found in animal waste).
Del Rey Lagoon
WPD collects a sample once per month from Del Rey Lagoon as part of its program to monitor water quality in Ballona Creek and its tributaries. This sample is analyzed for indicator bacteria.
Sepulveda Basin Lakes
Lake Balboa and Sepulveda Wildlife Lake are supplied with reclaimed wastewater from the nearby Donald C.Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, operated by the Bureau of Sanitation. Consequently, these lakes are subject to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that mandates comprehensive water quality monitoring. This monitoring program is managed cooperatively between the Bureau of Sanitation and Rec & Parks. This program includes daily monitoring of basic water quality parameters (such as temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and acidity), weekly monitoring of nutrient content and bacteria, and semi-annual monitoring of pesticides and herbicides, among others. Additionally, sediment samples are monitored at the Wildlife Lake.
Water Quality Improvements
WPD is involved in projects that improve water quality at City-owned facilities:
The Bureau of Sanitation implemented a cost-effective aeration system installation at Balboa Lake. Aeration of water bodies helps manage levels of odors, bacterial, and algal growth. The Bureau of Sanitation and Rec & Parks recently received a City of Los Angeles Productivity Improvement Award for this effort.
Del Rey Lagoon
Under the direction of WPD, the Bureau of Sanitation is in the process of taking over management of the tidegate at Del Rey Lagoon. The pollution assessment data gathered by WPD during routine monitoring will help determine the effectiveness of better tidegate management and other improvements at Del Rey Lagoon.
Echo Park Lake
Using designs provided by WPD, Bureau of Sanitation crews built and installed a manmade floating wetland island at Echo Park Lake. WPD populated this floating wetland island with wetland plants beginning in August 2003. The plants have demonstrated rapid growth, indicating the absorption of significant quantities of nutrients. Additional floating wetland islands are planned for Echo Park Lake once community input is gathered regarding the first island.
WPD is involved in these additional activities to improve water quality at Echo Park Lake:
Broad-based Public Outreach
WPD worked extensively with Telemundo, a locally-broadcast Spanish-language television network, to provide the correct water quality information for broadcast.
Staff from WPD participated in more than 80 public outreach events held throughout the City of Los Angeles so far this year (2004) educating the public about their ability and responsibility to improve water quality in their neighborhoods and the throughout the City.
Ballona Creek Salt Marsh Restoration
This work helped improve water quality and earned public recognition for the importance of habitat restoration and watershed management.