A new stormwater capture project at the Skylinks at Long Beach golf course near Long Beach Airport could help protect the Los Cerritos Wetlands from pollution and bolster the city’s groundwater supply once it’s completed in late 2024, a city consultant said.

The project has been in the works for some time, but a design of the proposal, which would be installed on the eastern portion of the golf course between Fire Station 19 and Rosie the Riveter Park, was presented to the public Wednesday night. The project is being funded by a $10.5 million grant from Los Angeles County through the county’s Measure W parcel tax that was approved by voters in 2018 to create revenue for stormwater recycling projects.

Once completed, the project will look like an artificial pond, which are common on golf courses, but it’s what’s underground that will make it vital to keeping pollutants out of the water supply.

A series of slide gates, pumps and filters would be installed under the storage pond. A diverter would push water from the Los Cerritos Channel that runs along Skylinks into underground pre-treatment areas before a pump would take some the water up to the 228,000-gallon above-ground pond. From there, it would be pumped back into the channel to flow to the ocean.

The rest of the water would settle into a below-ground storage gallery that can hold 2 million gallons of water. That water would get filtered before being allowed to drop down to underground aquifers.

Long Beach pumps about 60% of its annual water supply from underground sources.

“The main ones you’d notice are going to be trash and debris,” said Aric Torreyson, a consultant with Tetra Tech, which is helping the city with the project. “The main part is removing trash from the water shed and sediment reduction.”

Torreyson said in addition to about 590 pounds of zinc projected to be removed from the water flow, other dangerous metals that are often found in the sediment, like cadmium, copper and lead could also be removed.

The project would also help filter out bacteria from the roughly 177 million gallons of stormwater runoff that pass through the area each year.

A diagram showing a a stormwater capture project would work.
A rendering of the proposed stormwater capture project at Skylinks Golf Course in East Long Beach. Photo courtesy of city of Long Beach

Heavy metals can create long-term health problems if they contaminate drinking water, and along with bacteria, they can pose dangers to marine life.

“Once diverted, you’re seeing pollutant load reduction with around 96% of the water having been filtered by the time it goes back into the channel, which is a really great system that is being proposed,” said Oliver Galang, a consultant who’s also advising the city on the project.

In addition to the new stormwater capture devices, the project would also create new walking paths, informational signage about how the project works and install new native plants around the area. And unlike its current state, the parcel of land would be made open to the public.

The walking path would be accessible to the public off of Clark Avenue on the east side of Skylinks, and the project would be separated from the existing golf cart path by a new fence, tree line and a berm, according to the plans presented Wednesday.

Currently, the city expects to send the project out to bid near the end of 2023, with construction lasting through the spring of 2024. The new landscaping around the project is expected to be installed around the stormwater capture site in the summer of 2024 before being opened to the public in the fall of 2024.

While the total cost of the project hasn’t been determined yet, Torreyson said he believed it would come in around the $10 million mark once it goes out to bid.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.