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Council Approves Arroyo Seco Project

Published on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 10:01 am

The City Council has approved an application for $3.5 million in grant funds for a restoration project in the Arroyo Seco.

Pasadena and South Pasadena have come to a “mutually beneficial project constructing man-made wetlands and related infrastructure diverting dry weather flows from San Rafael Creek at its confluence with the Arroyo Seco to be passively treated, stored and reused,” according to a staff report on the project.

The funds will come from Proposition 68 Urban County Grant Program. 

Proposition 68, the California Parks and Water Bond Act of 2018, was passed by the voters for the development and enhancement of state and local parks and recreational facilities. 

As a part of Proposition 68, the Urban Counties Per Capita Grant Program was funded with almost $14 million to provide park and recreation services within jurisdictions of 200,000 or less in population. 

The two cities were approved to receive a total of $3.5 million under this grant from the state Department of Parks and Recreation for the money’s specified intent of the Arroyo Seco Water Reuse and Natural Stream Restoration. 

The proposed project will bring Pasadena into compliance with  state and federal mandates under the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which requires the city to take steps in reducing pollution in stormwater runoff. The project will also provide South Pasadena with a steady source of water for irrigation uses.

The city of Pasadena is mandated to divert the dry weather flow from the Arroyo Seco by September 2023 under the Upper Los Angeles River Enhanced Watershed Management Plan – Bacteria Load Reduction strategy. According to that plan, the dry weather flow contributes to E. coli bacteria in the Arroyo Seco and ultimately the L.A. River.

Other benefits of diverting the flow would include enhanced habitat and biodiversity in the Arroyo Seco, storage and reuse of water in South Pasadena, and educational opportunities covering watersheds, water quality, water conservation, habitat, and biodiversity. 

“Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MOU), the city of Pasadena will serve as the lead agency of the project. As such, city staff will coordinate with the granting agency and manage the design and construction of the project,” the report states.   

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