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Colorado Lagoon Restoration Fast-Tracked

Published 12/16/2009 on Uptown Gazette

Colorado Lagoon restoration work will begin soon after the City Council accepted $1.3 million from the Port of Long Beach and approved a contract with ARB Inc. this week.

Most of the money for the Colorado Lagoon restoration comes from a $3.2 million grant in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly called federal stimulus money. The problem is, that money came with a deadline to start work.

“We have to issue a Notice to Proceed by Dec. 31 or we lose the money,” said Third District Councilman Gary DeLong.

The problem was that when the lagoon restoration project went out to bid, the responses from companies came back higher than expected. That is where the Port of Long Beach stepped in to donate $1.3 million — in advance of future hoped for mitigation credits — to get the work started.

“I appreciate the Port of Long Beach stepping up to support this important community project,” DeLong said.

The council’s vote, which was unanimous, clears the way for the lagoon restoration to go forward.

The council did discuss the issue for more than 30 minutes, concerned about the potential to have to pay the port back (if mitigation credits are not granted) and the form in which it came to the body.

“Shovel ready” plans to restore the lagoon had been worked on for years, with the Friends of the Colorado Lagoon leading those efforts. Those plans call for a restored wetlands along part of the lagoon as well as returning part of it to a swimming beach.

The money in this first phase will go largely to a few projects that are considered the key reasons for the poor water quality in the lagoon.

One is to put in low-flow diversion systems on most of the seven storm drains that currently dump into Colorado Lagoon unfiltered. The low-flow diversion means that runoff that goes into the drains not during storms — things like water from someone washing their car, or sprinkler run off — will flow into the city sewer system and be treated. Currently that kind of water just runs straight into the lagoon.

Under a separate project, work is already underway on the biggest storm drain that flows into the lagoon, the Termino Avenue storm drain. That drain collects water from as far north as Anaheim Street and Redondo Avenue and runs to the lagoon. Work is currently underway to expand that line (to prevent flooding in some neighborhoods near Recreation Park) but also to put in a low-flow diverter. That will push the water directly to Marine Stadium. That project is underway and Los Angeles County oversees the work.

The other main project that is part of ARB Inc.’s charge is to clean out the underground culvert that connects Colorado Lagoon and Marine Stadium. That culvert is supposed to allow a tidal flow between the lagoon and the stadium (which connects to the larger bay and open ocean), providing some flushing action for the water.

But that culvert becomes clogged, resulting in little tidal and flushing action takes place. Part of the work for ARB will be to clean out that culvert.

The second phase of refurbishment to Colorado Lagoon will include a larger connection to Marine Stadium. That could be a creek that connects through the northern tip of Marina Vista Park, or an expanded culvert underneath it as exists now. The environmental work on those options is taking place now.

In addition to the federal stimulus money and port money, some state Prop. 1B money is included in the contract work.

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