Sustainable solution offers flood control and water quality improvement for a popular beach spot
For more than 20 years, challenging storm water conditions and continued erosion have been a problem at Surfer’s Point, a popular surf break near Santa Barbara, Calif. Beach erosion, degraded water quality and flooding issues have caused tremendous damage. Coastal development, unsustainable water management practices and runoff from urban and agricultural areas further exacerbated the problem.
A collaboration of community stakeholders from government, businesses, non-profits and residents, spent years debating options, and eventually chose the innovative “managed retreat”—or shoreline retreat—approach as their long-term solution to effectively manage the storm water and stall erosion.
The design of a rainwater-permeable parking lot and sustainable storm water filtration system were critical to the success of the Surfer’s Point managed retreat project. To provide the highest possible quality treatment of runoff water, the city of Ventura and consulting engineer RRM Design Group chose Contech to provide a StormFilter storm water management system to use in combination with bioretention from a grass bioswale, “buried cobble” berm and vegetated sand dunes. This StormFilter system was designed to remove trash, sediment, oil, nutrients and heavy metals from storm water runoff at flow rates of up to 2 cu ft—that is 900 gal—per minute.
In addition to being the most economical solution, managed treatment is also the best environmental solution because it re-establishes a natural erosion buffer zone through redesign of the urban watersheds and environmental restoration of this 1,800-ft stretch of shoreline. To create this zone, the old rip-rap was replaced with a cobble-and-sand berm, a crumbling bike trail was relocated more than 60 ft inland, and a sustainable quality storm water management system was designed to provide high-quality filtration near the new bike path and parking areas to treat storm water runoff before discharge to the nearby Ventura River estuary and the Pacific Ocean.
Since two decades of problematic flooding contributed to the erosion, the project required low-impact development (LID) features to capture and filter storm water runoff for flood control and water quality improvement. The StormFilter provided by Contech, working with the other biofiltration methods, met all of the LID criteria.
Both the city of Ventura and RRM Design Group have years of experience working with the StormFilter product. In addition to the quality of treatment provided, StormFilter also offers quick installation. In this case, the Surfer’s Point StormFilter was installed in less than an hour from offload.
“It was critical to the success of the project that treatment of the stormwater satisfy the strict requirements of both the California Coastal Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Board,” recalled Jerry Michael, RRM Design Group principal, who provided civil engineering services for the project. “StormFilter provided the best solution to meet all of the agencies’ concerns, and was easy to install.”
The newly-renovated Surfer's Point was engineered to appear natural, hiding the highly-sophisticated storm water filtration and treatment system, and managing the beachfront by acting as a barrier against further shoreline erosion.
This innovative managed retreat project is the first of its kind for the state of California, is featured on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website in “Shoreline Management” and is hailed as a model environmental approach to coastline restoration and stabilization.
Michael Hunter is product manager, storm water treatment, with Contech Engineered Solutions.