There are not a lot of people who get excited about underground water drainage systems, but the EPA's Nancy Stoner is one of them.
Stoner is the acting Assistant Administrator for Water at the Environmental Protection Agency and she was in Hermosa Beach to talk to city officials about and see some of the results of two water drainage and filtration projects that were completed in 2010. The projects, which include a special drainage system under Pier Avenue and a filtration trough that runs under The Strand, were partially paid for by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"I've come to see what communities are using the federal funds for," Stoner said, "and to share those ideas across the country. A lot of innovation is at the local level."
"If you're the lending source, you want to see what's going on," said Hermosa Beach Mayor Howard Fishman.
Stoner first heard about the details of the project from city Public Works Director Frank Senteno and Kathleen McGowan, the storm water consultant for the city. Then accompanied by city officials and Eric Boyd and Natalie Rodgers from Congresswoman Janice Hahn's office, and several city officials, Stoner took a short walking tour of Pier Avenue down to The Strand, where she saw the controls for the underground filtration trench's tide gate.
The two projects collect run-off water and re-direct it into underground filtration systems. The Pier Avenue project sank filtration tanks under various locations under the sidewalk, which divert run-off water into the sandy soil underneath, which helps with deep watering the plants on the sidewalks and in the center median. The filtration trench under The Strand collects the run-off from the area, then lets it seep into the sand underneath. The sand then naturally filters the water, removing harmful bacteria that would otherwise land in the ocean.
Stoner was impressed by the project and other improvements along Pier Avenue, including the solar-powered pedestrian lights at several of the crosswalks, joking that such lights would be useful back in Washington, DC.
"This is a great design for a beach community with sandy soils," she said about the project as a whole.
Fishman was pleased by Stoner's comments and visit.
"it's a testament to the project," he said.