How Lakewood Captures Water

Steve Propes

In December 2018, regular users of Bellflower Boulevard may well have noticed a mystery fleet of about a dozen big rig trucks with loads of concrete forms parked in the center divider facing north.

A motorist, who stopped to snap a few photos of these 18-wheelers was asked by neighbors if the driver knew why all these trucks were lined up in the middle of the highway. Plus a porta-potty at the grassy area separating the boulevard from the frontage road.

The person with the answers is Lakewood Public Information Officer Bill Grady. The city authorized reservoir construction at two Lakewood public parks. The trucks were needed to deliver concrete forms to the park, but parking was an issue. The best place they could stage, or wait until called was Bellflower Boulevard, about a mile from the ultimate destination, Mayfair Park on Clark Avenue just south of South Street.

The large concrete pieces were trucked in from the manufacturer, Jensen Company in Fontana and transported to Lakewood by several dozen independent truck drivers hired by Jensen. “Over a nine-day period, the trucks waited in the median area of Bellflower Boulevard near Candlewood Street waiting to be called to deliver their pieces of concrete to Mayfair Park,” Grady wrote in an email.

The result of a lawsuit, the first $11 million reservoir project at Bolivar Park was fully funded by Cal Trans (the California Department of Transportation),

Several environmental organizations had sued Cal Trans for not adequately treating the runoff from their freeways. An agreement that Cal Trans would fund future projects to treat storm water runoffs in the region caused various cities to propose projects to Cal Trans, each costing in excess of $10 million. Lakewood was the first to get the one built. Next to the 40-foot wide Los Cerritos Channel, Bolivar Park at Del Amo Boulevard and Downey Avenue went into operation in June,” said Grady.

Lakewood commenced the second storm water capture project at Mayfair Park in May 2018, fully funded by Cal Trans to the tune of $15 million. Both projects clean different channels.

“The Mayfair project is expected to be completed by September 2019. Construction of the underground concrete reservoir is taking place in two phases. In the first phase in December 2018, dozens of precast concrete reservoir pieces were lowered into the underground area of the park where they were connected together,” much like the connecting of Legos.

“Trucks were instructed to keep their idling to a minimum, doing so only while moving forward in line, and not while waiting in general. Lakewood inspectors reported no safety issues or problems during the nine days of concrete deliveries,” said Grady.

“There’s a crane in place in the underground hole that’s been dug out, which will be filled with these prefab pieces. Two concrete huge blocks on each truck, they needed to line up somewhere. The trucks wait their turn, then bring the blocks and a crew down there to guide the crane, where it needs to go,” Grady continued.

“Each channel has different pollutants, stuff you don’t want to be drinking. All of it flows to Alamitos Bay. There’s a hole cut in the bottom of the channel, the drop limit, water is sent across Downey Ave to the Bolivar Park reservoir and filters that take out the trash. The tank irrigates the park through holes in the tank, which seeps into the aquifer and goes back down in the ground water. All sorts of filters.”

Come February, trucks are scheduled to reappear on Bellflower Boulevard, the site most appropriate for this use. “The Mayfair project will be very similar to the Bolivar effort except the ground beneath Mayfair Park is largely impermeable to percolation from above, so any captured storm water not used for irrigation at the park will be sent into the regular sanitary sewer system to go to the Los Coyotes Water Reclamation Plant in Cerritos.

“There it can be further treated and used as recycled water for irrigation throughout the region. In the event the Mayfair project has so much water at any one time that it cannot send more to the Los Coyotes plant, then the excess water will be treated on site at Mayfair and returned to the nearby Clark Flood Control Channel. It will flow to the ocean as it did before, but this time as clean water.”

Fans of major construction projects are not being ignored. There are bleachers at a viewing area near the project, so that “kids of all ages could see the Tonka truck through slits in the fence.” A lot of middle pieces, ones in the end are probably unique. We put in the stadium seating, kids of all ages would like to see it.”


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