Dominguez Gap Wetlands

Bottom line - the money's out there, you just have to have the will power.

Long Beach cuts the ribbon on a wetlands wonder
By Pamela Hale-Burns, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - At first glance, you might not think the site is a
flood-control channel, but that's exactly what it is.

With an array of beautiful flowers and wildlife in the background,
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don
Knabe cut the ribbon at the opening of the $7million, 50-acre
Dominguez Gap Wetlands project in Long Beach on Thursday.

The first of its kind in the region, the wetlands project, along the
east and west sides of the Los Angeles River between Del Amo
Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway, still offers flood
protection along the river's urban lower reaches.

But it also helps improve groundwater quality, restores some native
habitat and offers trails for walkers and horseback riders.

"This is a great day for the Los Angeles County and for its water-
quality partners," said Knabe. "The project's open space, water-
quality improvements and groundwater recharge make it a cost-
effective solution for addressing some of the county's toughest
regional issues."

Water flows into the wetlands from the river and Long Beach-area
storm drains. Some 1.3 million gallons per day is then treated by
the wetlands' plant life, which removes traces of heavy metals,
organic carbons, oil and greases from urban runoff.

"We want to deliver water that is of some quality to our community,"
said Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of the County of Los
Angeles Department of Public Works. "We know that we will reduce the
nutrients a significant amount."
The treated water from the east basin flows into the west basin for
storage and groundwater recharge or flows into the L.A. River.

"The purpose of this project is to provide flood protection, improve
water quality and to provide water conservation,
" said Diego Cadena,
County Public Works deputy director.

The construction of the 37-acre east basin includes one mile of
treatment wetlands, pedestrian and horseback trails, bird
observation decks, woodland and riparian habitat and a bike trail
rest station.

Some of the wildlife native to the area, including the red-
shouldered hawk, the great blue heron, and the tri-colored
blackbird, are returning to the region, according to county
officials. Plants like purple sage, buckwheat, monkeyflower and
willow trees are also part of the habitat.

"It adds recreational opportunities like hiking, biking and a rest
area," said Cadena. "There are educational opportunities as well.
It's a true multipurpose facility."

The 24-hour facility is open to the public except on storm days,
when it is closed for security reasons.

"We want the public to come out," said Cadena. "You're right in the
middle of the city but you'll believe you are somewhere outside of
L.A. It's so beautiful and peaceful."

Although plans have been under way since the early 1990s,
construction took 18 months and was funded with a $2.35 million
Proposition 13 CALFED grant, $200,000 from Proposition 40 funds
administered through the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, $400,000
from the California Coastal Conservancy Wetland Recovery Project,
and $4 million from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

The 15-acre west basin will add 450 acre-feet of water a year to the
system - an acre-foot of water is enough water for two families of
four for one year.

"The Dominguez Gap Wetlands project will have a measurable impact on
water quality and return enough water to the groundwater system to
meet the supply demands for 900 families of four for one year,"
Cadena said.

The L.A. River has historically been polluted by stormwater and
runoff that collects on the city streets and communities, due to
littering and illegal dumping of automobile fluids and other

"We want the public to know it starts with them; the cigarette butts
they drop, the trash," Cadena said. "They are a key component to
water quality and helping solve the problem."

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