Getting Your Feet Wet – A Fresh Approach to Monitoring Trash Quantities in the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek

Date / Time:
Tuesday, Oct 16 2:45pm to 3:15pm
Meeting Room 1-3 (Lower Level)
Track / Session:
Trash Track / Trash Assessment and Tracking

This presentation describes a novel in-stream trash monitoring approach for engineered channels in a highly urbanized city.  In 2015, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) re-opened the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek Trash Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and included, among other changes, an-instream monitoring component for trash.

As the lead agency for the Upper Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek Watershed Management Groups, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN) Watershed Protection Division (WPD) developed and is implementing a Trash Monitoring and Reporting Plan on behalf of the two watershed groups.  Due to the size of the watersheds, number of reaches and tributaries, LASAN WPD sought an alternative trash assessment approach to the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) method that would better address the engineered characteristics of the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek and allow for safe trash monitoring.  There were two protocols developed and approved by the LARWQCB and currently utilized: In-River Observation (IRO) and High Elevation Point Observation (HEPO). The IRO differs from the SWAMP method in that it provides a quantitative measure of the amount and type of trash in the engineered channel, while the HEPO provides a documented visual assessment of the watershed tributaries. 

The presentation will describe to attendees the development of the protocols, including monitoring site selection criteria and standardization.  The methods and specific equipment used in the field to implement each of the IRO and HEPO monitoring protocols will be discussed.  Actual field data from “year one – Summer 2018” will be presented, and results of desktop analysis using LASAN’s coined “trash library” will be shown.  Though TMDL compliance is still measured on watershed activities, this newly acquired in-stream information may inform storm water managers as well as other management professionals (i.e., Solid Resource Programs) as to the type and transport of trash and whether modifications to trash programs are warranted.  The presentation will share lessons learned in the field as well as in data analysis to help other agencies facing similar sized watersheds and engineered channels conduct in-stream trash monitoring in a safe and cost-effective manner.  Attendees will walk away with an understanding of an alternative approved quantitative trash monitoring method they may employ in their respective watersheds.  

The topics of this presentation support the conference theme to address the “challenges and opportunities . . . [of] pollutant management”, specifically for trash.  The subject matter also supports the State Water Board STORMS Program’s high priority objective to “Identify monitoring and effectiveness assessment approaches that efficiently generate information used for adaptive management and improvement of the local municipal storm water programs regulated by Water Board requirements.”

Primary Speaker:
Donna Chen, ADvTECH Environmental, Inc.

Ms. Chen is an environmental engineer and scientist with over 29 years of experience in environmental management.  She has led development of studies, reports, and plans, including protocol selection and modification, site selection standardization, and data analysis approach for in-stream trash monitoring plan.  Ms. Chen has peer reviewed storm water documents for watershed agency groups. As former Assistant Division Manager of the City of Los Angeles’ Watershed Protection Division, she worked with internal and external agencies on TMDL implementation, and headed sections that reviewed and analyzed water quality regulations, presented testimony at hearings, and conducted water quality sampling City-wide.

Supporting Speaker 1:
Alfredo Magallanes, City of Los Angeles