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Home > Natural Resources > Land Management for Sustainable Communities and Natural Resources

Sunken Median Stormwater Biofiltration Safeguards the Beach along Santa Monica Bay

Biofiltration fits snugly between lanes of traffic and between the industrial runoff from a major highway, sanitation processing plant and residential communities...and the ocean. Keep that pollution out of our oceans!

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The Imperial Highway Sunken Median Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) project

By Carolyn Allen, Editor

I drive by the Imperial Highway project almost daily, and watched this biofiltration system being constructed. Cool! Here are more details about how it filters urban runoff from residential and industrial areas that has been draining into the Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It is one more way to protect the fragile habitat and wildlife ecosystem under stress in the Bay.

Sunken Median Stormwater Diversion

This urban street median stormwater project is located on Imperial Highway between Pershing Drive and Main Street in El Segundo, CA. It is in a highly traveled street that divides LAX Airport and the residential neighborhoods of El Segundo. It also leads directly to Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean...just down the street.

El Segundo bio filter

Los Angeles and El Segundo reduce pollutants to Santa Monica Bay with Biofiltration System.

Biofiltration System of Vegetated Swales and Trench

The stormwater runoff project installed a biofiltration system comprised of vegetated swales and an infiltration trench that will collect runoff from a 7.5-acre area and remove bacteria, oil, trash and suspended solids from stormwater that would otherwise be discharged to Santa Monica Bay. Shrubs and trees were also planted in the project area, and an automated irrigation system that uses recycled water was installed.

"I am delighted that another Proposition O project in our district is complete,” said Councilman Rosendahl. ”Yet again, we have developed a system that not only reduces the amount of pollution entering Santa Monica Bay but also beautifies our community."

One of 32 Stormwater Improvements by LA

The project was conceptualized by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation as one of the 32 stormwater improvements funded by the voter-approved Proposition O Clean Water Bond. Bureau director Enrique Zaldivar says, “This project accomplishes our goal of utilizing green natural systems to manage stormwater as a resource while protecting the health and safety of marine life and beachgoers alike. It also helps recharge groundwater and assists the City in complying with EPA-mandated water quality standards.”

During the planning phase of the project, the City of Los Angeles design and construction project team coordinated with the El Segundo neighborhood and Tree Musketeers, a non-profit tree planting organization that has been planting and caring for trees along Imperial highway. City Engineer Gary Lee Moore points out that they developed the design closely with the Tree Musketeers to ensure that the project complemented their Trees to the Sea project.

For more information about this project, visit Department of Public Works, or call the Public Affairs Office at (213) 978-0333.

To learn about the Tree Musketeers, see

Prop O was approved by City of Los Angeles voters in November 2004 authorizing $500 million in general obligation bonds to be used by the City of Los Angeles for water quality improvement projects. Design and construction are managed by the Bureau of Engineering in collaboration with the Bureau of Sanitation. The Bureau of Contract Administration provides inspection services to ensure that the projects are built according to contract plans and specifications. A Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee (COAC) and Administrative Oversight Committee are also involved to make sure that each Prop O dollar is spent towards water quality improvement projects.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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