Geosyntec Projects Receive California Awards for Innovative Stormwater Management
Two Geosyntec initiatives featuring innovative environmental strategies for managing and funding stormwater projects for regional runoff treatment through natural processes earned distinguished awards this week from the California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA).
The Measure M Tier 2 Grant Program supported by Geosyntec’s water resources engineers and geospatial practitioners for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Orange, California, earned CASQA’s 2014 award for Outstanding Stormwater BMP Program. It was presented to OCTA officials and Geosyntec practitioners at the association’s annual award presentation, held September 16.
In addition, the Mill Creek Wetlands Project in Ontario, California, was selected as CASQA’s Outstanding Stormwater BMP Project for 2014. Geosyntec engineers and scientists conceived and designed the stormwater and geotechnical elements for this public-private initiative, which involved federal, state, regional, and municipal agencies as well as a prominent land developer. Completed in 2013, the facility treats both wet and dry weather flows through the Mill Creek Wetlands using natural processes to mitigate impacts from sediment, metals, bacteria, and nutrients.
“CASQA is the pre-eminent authority on stormwater management in California and is recognized nationally for its technical and policy contributions to the practice of stormwater management,” said Ken Susilo, a principal water resources engineer for Geosyntec based in California. “It is an honor to be recognized by these industry leaders for both outstanding awards.”
The recognition from CASQA marks the second award this year for the Mill Creek Wetlands Project, which in May earned the Outstanding Public Sector Civil Engineering Project Award from the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Orange County Transportation Authority’s Outstanding Stormwater Program in California
“The award for the Measure M Tier 2 Grant Program, in particular, is a testament to the innovative and forward-thinking efforts of OCTA’s program,” Susilo said. “More importantly, it reaffirms voter faith that the program would determine the highest and best use of public funds in attaining a multitude of benefits for the region.”
The OCTA Measure M Tier 2 Grant Program funds the purchase and installation of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) on a regional and multi-jurisdictional level in Orange County. These BMPs can include constructed wetlands, detention and infiltration basins, and bioswales, an alternative to storm sewers that use natural means such as vegetation and soil to treat stormwater by filtering out contaminants.
Measure M program officials allocate public funds on a competitive basis to assist city and county agencies that must install or update infrastructure to meet Clean Water Act requirements for the control of transportation-generated pollution. Geosyntec has provided professional services for the program since 2010, beginning with a comprehensive study that applied a technically rigorous, publicly vetted, GIS-based process (www.sbpat.net) to characterize and prioritize every catchment area in Orange County according to factors such as pollutant loading (bacteria, nutrients, metals, total suspended solids, trash), receiving water impairments, monitoring data, and transportation priority.
The firm also has consulted with County officials on the cost effectiveness of Measure M project proposals; provided guidance on how regional agencies should submit funding applications; developed a plan to prioritize, schedule, and finance water quality improvement projects; created a tool for evaluating and monitoring project implementation; and assisted with municipal separate storm sewer system permitting.
“The program helps mitigate two key infrastructure needs, transportation and water quality, by pooling resources and optimizing benefits to the community and the surrounding ecosystem,” Susilo said. “It also serves as a model for our region, which is in need of resources to maintain our natural and built environments.”
Mill Creek Wetlands: Outstanding Stormwater Project in California
For the Mill Creek Wetlands Project, Geosyntec engineers provided extensive water quality and wetland design support services to build a constructed wetland ecosystem in the arid environment of San Bernardino County, 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The project successfully redirects flows from Cucamonga Creek into a series of natural water quality treatment ponds that include areas of open water and wetland vegetation. It also restores 23 acres of riparian and upland habitat, which were previously degraded due to past agricultural activities and illegal dumping. Geosyntec established wetland design elements, conducted geotechnical investigations, and proposed wetland alternatives based on flow rates, recreational and environmental benefits, and cost.
The project presents an effective means of leveraging water quality benefits regionally year-round. The wetlands are estimated to treat an average of 2,100 acre-feet of wet weather runoff per year, equaling approximately 11 percent of average annual wet weather runoff into Cucamonga Creek. During dry weather, the wetlands treat up to 3,100 acre feet of flow each year, or an estimated 340 percent more than would be treated by an on-site alternative. This corresponds to an estimated 10-18 percent of total dry weather flow volume from Cucamonga Creek.
Geosyntec is a specialized consulting and engineering firm that works with private and public sector clients to address new ventures and complex problems involving our environment, natural resources, and civil infrastructure (http://www.geosyntec.com).