Stormwater capture is becoming a big deal in California. Once viewed merely as a nuisance or worse, a flooding threat runoff from storms is now embraced as a water supply that can be captured.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (LACFCD) are working together to enhance the 150-acre Tujunga Spreading Grounds, an important groundwater recharge project that will help enhance local water supplies and reduce L.A.’s reliance on expensive imported water.

The project got underway this summer with W. A. Rasic the winning bidder for the general contract and several ECA member firms working as subcontractors. Rasic’s bid of $19.8 million came in under the engineer’s’ estimate.

The project is located at the intersection of Interstate 5 and CA-170 in Sun Valley. This is a facility owned by LADWP. The project will reconfigure 20 small basins into 10 deeper basins, augment storage capacity from 100 to 927 acre-feet, increase intake capacity from 250 to 450 cubic-feet per second and increase the capability to receive flows from the Tujunga Wash and Pacoima Diversion Channel. The project will also automate the facility and retrofit it with telemetry systems.

The project received a $3.4 million grant through the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) under Proposition 84, The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, which gives one an idea of how long it takes the state to spend water project money.

This project was conceived in the last decade and took about ten years to grow from concept to actual work, about average for most California water projects. The last few years included a complete run-through of the obligatory “outreach” public meetings/environmental requirements, including nine public hearings and the following environmental steps:

  • Initial Study completed in February 2012
  • Notice of Preparation completed in February 2012
  • Draft EIR completed in July 2012
  • Public meeting held on September 2012
  • Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the EIR in June 2013
  • Notice of Determination issued in June 2013

Aside from recharging the aquifer, the renovation will beautify the facility and allow for passive recreation on community open space. That work will go out for bid next year.