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Sustainability spotlight: Climate Adaptation and Resilience at Rancho Los Cerritos

Release Date: 2022-04-14

The historic Rancho Los Cerritos is paving the way for climate change, environmental justice, and water conservation with their stormwater retention and recapture project, Looking Back to Advance Forward.  

The Rancho, a 4.7-acre historic site located in Bixby Knolls and adjacent to the Los Angeles River, is an ideal location for this green infrastructure project. When rainwater hits pavement, it becomes stormwater runoff. Stormwater, especially in urban areas with little vegetation coverage, travels across contaminated surfaces, such as polluted streets, picking up these contaminants as it travels. Eventually this runoff ends up in nearby storm drain channels, rivers, and oceans, harming local wildlife and contaminating nearby water sources. In order to limit the amount of polluted runoff entering local waterways, it is beneficial to have plant coverage and permeable surfaces. Rancho Los Cerritos’ stormwater reclamation project, Looking Back to Advance Forward, aims to increase stormwater retention and recapture on-site from 40% to over 95% annually. 

The project in-progress, funded by the Port of Long Beach, The Metropolitan Water District, and Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, includes a mix of new technology and traditional water-capturing methods to increase water retention. Using new technology, rainwater will infiltrate through permeable paving and permeable concrete that will replace the decomposed granite and soil cement that currently exists on-site. The stormwater will then recharge the groundwater through natural infiltration.  

Water that lands on the standard driveway pavement will be channeled to a 22,000-gallon cistern, or underground storage tank, via a series of drains. From the cistern, the water will be treated for use in landscaping irrigation around Rancho Los Cerritos.   

The project also includes using traditional water-capturing methods, such as bioswales, or vegetated ditches, to channel the water using gravity into an arroyo on-site that hosts an abundance of native life. The arroyo serves as additional water capture point in the case that the cistern becomes full in a heavy rainfall. This ensures a variety of water recapture methods on the property. 

One of Long Beach’s most prominent and daunting issues is adapting to climate change. As temperatures rise and weather patterns fluctuate, stressors such as extreme heat, drought, sea level rise, and flooding will affect Long Beach and its residents. An important way to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change is to maximize resource conservation. This can be implemented by investing in green infrastructure such as stormwater retention and recapture. Rancho Los Cerritos’ Looking Back to Advance Forward water conservation project is an excellent step toward the future of climate change adaptation and resilience.

For more information, visit www.rancholoscerritos.org or call 562-206-2040.