BALLONA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE AREAS A and B.docx
Click above for two labeled photos of Ballona from the West Bluffs off Lincoln Boulevard
Ballona Wetlands is a uniquely situated coastal wetland overlying three aquifers that act as one (Playa Vista EIR, 1992), and therefore, protection of this wetland, protects these freshwater aquifers. The current plan from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) would introduce daily tidal flow into the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve which not only exacerbates the potential for saltwater intrusion into three groundwater aquifers but would violate the purpose and goals of the designation of Ballona Wetland as an Ecological Reserve per the California Fish and Game Commission (2005).
In 2005, the Ballona Wetlands was designated as an Ecological Reserve by the Fish and Game Commission pursuant to Title 14 of the Cal. Code of Regulations Section 630. The public notice for this listing stated that designation was required for the "protection and enhancement of coastal salt marsh and freshwater marsh habitats, and associated species, including the state listed endangered Belding's Savannah Sparrow. The area is also an important wildlife movement corridor to other public lands in the vicinity of the wetlands. ... Since the property contains sensitive species, including a state listed endangered species, sensitive vegetation communities and acts as a linkage for other important protected lands, it is necessary and appropriate to provide this level of regulatory protection to prevent improper use and degradation of wildlife resources." (Cal. Regulatory Notice Register, Vol. 20-Z, at 663-664, 2005).
Thus, freshwater was a key component to the designation of the Ballona Wetlands as an Ecological Reserve. Consistent with its designation, and contrary to CDFW’s current claims, the Ballona Wetlands is a seasonal freshwater coastal wetland with groundwater at or near the surface, and it is not, historically, a tidally influenced saltwater marsh open to the ocean (Dark et. al, 2010 and Jacobs et. al. 2011). The State's Registry specifically requires protection to Ballona's freshwater resources under Title 14, Non-Marine Section 630 Ecological Reserve protective status which was approved by the California Fish & Game Commission in 2005.
The seasonal freshwater and the groundwater connection must be protected. The wetlands and the groundwater aquifers are ready made to save freshwater now.
However, the interaction of sea water intrusion with groundwater aquifers may be increased with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s certified plan (FEIR, ESA 2020) to lower the elevation of the Ballona Wetlands to allow current sea level to flood the wetlands with daily tidal flows, converting the vegetated wetlands into open saltwater estuary. The freshwater aquifers that are underlying the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve are classified by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board as Drinking Water and Potential Drinking Water.
And finally, although the Santa Monica Sub-Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan acknowledges that there is a data gap with no monitoring wells to assess the potential for saltwater intrusion into the groundwater, there is little indication in the implementation section of the Plan that there is any urgency to fill this data gap. We would ask that this important data gap be identified and included in a list of urgent projects that the State Water Resources Department will fund. Saltwater intrusion potentially may affect the freshwater aquifers that are underlying the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve which as previously mentioned are classified by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board as Drinking Water and Potential Drinking Water.
In conclusion, Grassroots Coalition requests that the Culver City Democrats put forth a letter to the Culver City Council to support the protection of Ballona Wetlands natural fresh surface water and groundwater resources. And further, to request the Culver City Council to direct their representative on the Santa Monica Sub-Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, Mr. Dave Singletary, to request an in-depth Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem evaluation at the Ballona Wetlands.