The wetlands on each side of the Los Angeles River between Del Amo Boulevard and the 405 Freeway are lush with native shrubs, trees, brush, and wildflowers. By 2016, cities and counties within the Los Angeles River Watershed may no longer deposit trash into the river. Photo: County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and its partners have taken another step toward making the 52-mile Los Angeles River an economic and recreational resource with a first-of-a-kind project for the region: wet-lands on each side of the river.

The $7 million renovation of two county Flood Control District spreading grounds includes pedestrian and horseback trails and bird observation decks, as well as native shrubs, trees, brush, and wildflowers. One wetland will treat 1.3- to 3.2-mgd of stormwater and urban runoff, which will then be conveyed under the river to the other wetland, where 450 acre-feet/year of water will permeate into the West Coast Groundwater Basin.

“The project will return enough water to the groundwater system to meet the supply demands for 900 families of four for one year,” says Diego Cadena, deputy director of the department. The master plan for enhancing the river's role within the region has been in effect since 1996.