CA wetland park receives notable ISI award for its sustainable infrastructure

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WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 4, 2014 -- On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park in Los Angeles, Calif., earned the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure's (ISI)  Envision™ Platinum award -- the highest level attainable in the ISI Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system -- for its sustainable wetland efforts.

The first project in Southern California to receive an ISI Envision award and only the second to receive an Envision Platinum rating, the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park infrastructure project is located in a historically underserved area of the city. The project is a result of Proposition O, a program supported by a series of general obligation bonds valued at $500 million. The projects are being implemented to protect public health by removing pollution from the city’s watercourses, beaches and the ocean in order to meet Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements.

For the Envision presentation, the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering who led the project -- represented by Interim City Engineer Deborah Weintraub, along with Psomas, the engineering consulting company who provided planning, design and management services -- accepted the ISI Envision Platinum award on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Los Angeles City Council meeting in the Council Chamber.

"The South L.A. Wetland Park is a good example of an integrated engineering solution that successfully built consensus, captured and improved local urban runoff, and created a new neighborhood-revitalizing amenity. It represents what is possible when an owner and an engineer collaborate and redefine the paradigm of multi-benefit projects," said Psomas Principal, Director of Sustainability, and Envision Sustainability Professional and Envision Verifier, Sean P. Vargas.

The features of the project that helped the project score highly for sustainability within the Envision framework included remediation of the former brownfield site, creation of new urban green space, and the design of the park to use urban runoff as a treatment-wetland sustaining resource.

Quality of Life: The project enhanced public space and restored site accessibility. Being surrounded by homes and schools, the site made an ideal locale for an urban park with restored natural features and green space. The site was previously inaccessible to the public and surrounded by an eigh- foot-high chain-link fence. The project team developed informative way-finding signage located near the entrance of the park, and addressed safety and accessibility in and around the park by providing multiple access and egress points, as well as installing security cameras at the site.

Leadership: The project improved infrastructure integration of the regional storm drain network using water from the storm drain network to sustain the wetland, using a series of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to enhance the quality of runoff, treating urban runoff from a 525-acre contributing watershed, and adding beneficial park space in the community. The South L.A. Wetlands project ranked very highly in many Envision credit areas including:

Resource Allocation: The project reduced energy use by installing solar lighting, which reduced energy consumption by 77 percent. An extensive initial commissioning of the pump stations was conducted to ensure the SCADA system controlling the wetland's low-flow and high-flow pump systems operated efficiently.

Natural World: The project transformed the previous brownfield facility into an urban park with amenities including trails, boardwalks, observation decks, picnic areas, and a natural rock garden seating area. A wetland with riparian and emergent marsh habitat was created at the center of a densely-populated urban community, and the land use designation of the site was changed from Light Industrial to Open Space in order to ensure the continued use of the site as a wetlands park. The project incorporates native California plant species, requiring no pesticides or fertilizer. These open-water, emergent-marsh, riparian and upland plants contribute to wetland habitat restoration and help restore species biodiversity.

Climate and Risk
: The project was designed to be resilient and adaptive to the consequences of long-term climate change scenarios, such as extreme flood or drought. Flexible operation features were built in so that the wetlands may be operated differently. Substantial efforts were made to address the effects of potential long-term climate change by constructing a wetlands environment with riparian habitat at the center of a densely populated urban community.

"ISI's Envision is a standard providing how new horizontal infrastructure should be planned, designed and built to incorporate sustainability. In today's environment, the conditions and constraints under which infrastructure must perform are increasingly challenging," said ISI Executive Director Bill Bertera. "Communities are facing new challenges arising from environmental regulations, ever more scarce financial resources, and pressures associated with climate change and global warming. We need to respond to these conflicting priorities in ways that speak to broad public and societal interests. The Envision rating system is a part of the answer…to help us not only do the projects right, but to do the right projects."

See also:

"CA restoration project honored for notable economic, environmental services"

"ISI, AWWA partnership to develop water infrastructure sustainability rating system"

About Psomas

Psomas provides sustainably engineered solutions to public and private clients worldwide. As a full-service consulting, engineering, construction management, environmental, and survey firm, we help our clients create value and deliver complex projects. For more information, visit

About City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering

Through its core values of Integrity, Respect, Teamwork, and Quality, the Bureau of Engineering is committed to leading the transformation of Los Angeles into the world’s most livable city. The Bureau’s mission is to be recognized as a national leader in the delivery of sustainable capital projects. For more information, visit

About ISI Envision™

Envision™ is the product of a joint collaboration between ISI, which was founded by three national engineering associations (ASCE, ACEC, APWA), and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. For more information, visit


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