Metabolic Studio Pilot Wetland Study
Bending the River Back into the City reconnects the City with its original source of water, the Los Angeles River. Bending the River involves capturing dry-weather flow in the LA River to reduce potable water use. In order to use such a resource, the captured water will be treated to meet state and local water quality requirements. The Metabolic Studio has considered various options, from high tech to low tech. But if we are bringing water back to the land, it’s natural that we want to incorporate an organic approach rather than relying solely on conventional treatment methods.
Wetlands, one of the most sophisticated water treatment systems that nature has ever created, have been around since water started running on land. They feature some of the highest biodiversity of any habitat types on earth. Today wetlands are protected by federal laws, however historically they have been undervalued and many natural wetlands were lost to urban development. Bending the River is an opportunity to bring them back! But we need to find out if wetlands can be used a treatment option to help meet the required water quality standards.
As such, the Metabolic Studio is conducting a water quality analysis and literature review on the feasibility of using wetlands to meet water quality requirements. It has been well documented in scientific literature that wetlands are capable of removing many contaminants of concern, including metals, nutrients, and bacteria. After conducting our literature review and analyzing the water quality data, it is pretty clear to us that wetlands could be a suitable treatment method for treating LA River water. Thus, we have decided to conduct a pilot study to test out our hypothesis and back it up with solid data.
The wetland design team has designed three modular horizontal subsurface flow wetland systems that are made of nine cells each. Each wetland system contains different soil media and will be planted with a palette of locally sourced native California wetland plant species. The wetland cells are arranged in such a way to allow water to stream down from one cell and into the next. The modular design creates flexibility to accommodate sites with different conditions.
This pilot wetland study will involve evaluation of treatment performance of these wetland systems to determine which type of soil media, the required residence time, and what operating conditions will make the biggest difference in helping us to meet the treatment goals. We know that there is growing interest in dry-weather runoff capture and use from the LA River and across California, and we hope that the findings of this pilot study will benefit other similar projects in the future. The Metabolic Studio will publish the findings of this pilot study in a peer-reviewed scientific journal as a way to make our contribution to science and to further our understanding in this type of wetland systems.
We are very excited about this new project! We will keep you posted on how things go. Stay tuned!