Visiting Watershed Parks in the Rain

December 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

Our concrete rivers and creeks are dangerous during heavy rains; don’t take our word for it, watch No Way Out! What’s fun to visit in the rain are the adjacent rainwater harvesting sites: watershed management parks and green steets. L.A. Creek Freak didn’t quite get to Elmer Avenue in Sun ValleyBicknell Avenue in Santa Monica, or those city of Downey swales… if anyone has reports on any of those sites, please post comments!

Over the past couple rainy days Creek Freak did pay visits to Marsh Park, Riverdale Avenue and the Bimini Slough Ecology Park. Reports below!


Creek Freak is planning a good long “places to visit” post about Marsh Park… one of these days. It’s located along the Los Angeles River, at the end of Marsh Street in Elysian Valley. Marsh Park features a grassy bowl area that’s mostly dry during the year, but, in larger storms, fills up with rainwater running down Marsh Street. This detains and infiltrates runoff, contributing to decreased flooding and pollution on the L.A. River. When the bowl completely fills, it spills out into the river.

Water ponding at Marsh Park, December 21st 2010

Yesterday was the first day when I’ve actually seen significant rainwater ponding in the bowl at Marsh Park. It’s certainly been wet and soggy during and after rains, but I wanted a decent photo that really can tell the story of Marsh’s detention bowl in action.


Creek Freak enjoyed the opening of Riverdale Avenue’s green street project earlier this year. It’s about a mile downstream of Marsh, also in the city of Los Angeles’ Elysian Valley neighborhood. The project features lots of underground infiltration stuff… and one above-ground “Vegetated Stormwater Curb Extension.”

Inlet for Riverdale Avenue bioswale

I was disappointed to find that the entry point for the curb extension was nearly entirely blocked by leaves and debris. A bit of water was entering, but the bulk of the flow appeared to be swirling around the entry, then flowing further down the gutter. It seems that the bunch grasses (juncus?) around the entry might be planted too densely – doing too good a job at blocking flotsam. Additionally, after four days of rain, the soil is likely to be saturated and unable to absorb more water at a significant rate. Other sites (see for example Elmer Avenue) include more rocks at the entry point to their curb gardens. The rocks slow down and spread the water a bit, without really blocking it, allowing more water to flow in and debris to spread more. If the entry becomes occluded during smaller storms, then it might make sense to rearrange the upstream landscape a bit to include more of a gap, so more stormwater can enter.

Outlet for Riverdale Avenue bioswale curb extension, during rain December 21st 2010

Interestingly, there was quite a bit of water entering the curb extension via what I thought was the outlet. It occurred to me that both of these gaps were possibly designed to be inlets? or just that when one gap becomes blocked the other kicks in.


Well, we just ran photos of this park during very high flow and a while back ran a good looong article with more than you ever wanted to know about the Bimini Slough Ecology Park… so, today, it’s videos of the Bimini site – located at the corner of 2nd Street and Bimini Place in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. These vids were taken Monday afternoon December 20th 2010, during our fourth day of rain, so the park has a very pleasant creek flow.

Rainwater running off Bimini Place and Second Street, into the Bimini Slough Ecology Park

The inlet and trash filter were getting a good workout – with plenty of water running in from the street.

With a gently flowing creek, it hardly seems like this is in the middle of Koreatown, the most population-dense neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles.

This video shows where the flow exits the park and enters the city storm drain system.


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