Sep 30, 2019

West Berkeley Begins Work on Green Infrastructure Project

The new project is one of three to be started by the town and aims to clean rain water by running it through soil and plants

In order to clean dirty rain water, the new project will run the rain through soils and plants before pumping purified water into the creek.
In order to clean dirty rain water, the new project will run the rain through soils and plants before pumping purified water into the creek.

To combat dirty water from flowing into the Codornices Creek, West Berkeley has begun construction on a new “green stormwater spine.”

The creek, which runs alongside a McDonald’s and perpendicular to a major cross-city thoroughfare, is a spot where commercial and natural worlds meet, according to Berkeleyside

The online news site said that when it rains, storm water mixes with the particulate matter from cars that drive down the street, which then flows into creek and carries tainted water to the bay. 

This new green infrastructure project, which is part of a $4 million, four-city effort funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans and another state agent and has been seven years in the making, is designed to slow that process down by cleaning the water through soil and plants and pumping purified water back to the creek, according to Berkeleyside. 

This particular segment in Berkeley is the first to be built. Work started Sept. 23 and is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving. 

When the project is completed, it will wash dirty rain water into landscaped areas, pool and soak into special oils. Josh Bradt, the project manager, told Berkeleyside that the plant communities “will draw up the pollutants.”

Already, McDonald’s has bioswales and curved drainage systems installed in its parking lot, according to Berkeleyside. 

Berkeleyside reported that the city has done three other bioretention and green infrastructure projects and more may come in the future. By today, the city was to submit a mandatory green infrastructure plan to the regional water board. The city council approved the plan, which identified 11 priority sites for projects, in early September. 

With such projects, comes a price. According to Berkeleyside, in 2018, voters passed an increase in the city’s clean storm water fee by about $43 for an average single-family home  owner for the first time since 1991. That revenue will be spent on piping and green infrastructure projects. 

Once completed, it will be the city’s job to maintain the site by tending to plants, clearing trash and making sure it’s draining properly, Berkeleyside reported.

To build projects at the 11 sites in the plan, which were chosen because of their close proximity to busy right-of-ways,  it would cost $1.7 million with another $100,000 to maintain them each year. According to Berkeleyside, the green infrastructure plan has an additional goal of treating another 17 acres of runoff in the next decade. 

According to Berkeleyside, project advocates said green infrastructure has proven to filter heavy metals, oils and vehicle wear-and-tear that gets mixed into storm water. 


Read more about green infrastructure.