Where has all the water gone at Ballona Wetlands?

 Dear Ballona Supporters,
Patricia’s Letter to the Water Board is dense with information 
but even if you only understand part of this information, 
you will be the better for it. Jeanette
Learn about our local aquifers. 
1. Who’s wasting 650,000 gallons of freshwater daily and much more!
2. Where our aquifers are!
3. Why our wetlands are so un-naturally dry!
SEE Grassroots Coalition - Patricia McPherson’s Waterboard Letter:

"Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve--Protecting & Restoring Ballona's Freshwater"
Hello Mr. Kang, Waterboard personnel, 

Ballona Wetlands overlies freshwater aquifers. The degradation of the freshwater aquifers of Ballona Wetlands has occurred through manmade over drafting of its freshwaters and by allowing the saltwater intrusion caused by the creation of Marina del Rey and the breeches into the Ballona Channel levees allowing saltwater flow into the manmade canals. Despite this degradation, the freshwater shed flow into Ballona Wetlands provided for freshwater levels to be at or near the surface in 1990. (1990 Environmental Impact Report) The upper freshwater aquifers are classified by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) as Potential Drinking Water andthe lower, Silverado Aquifer is a major drinking water source for the Los Angeles Basin.
LARWQCB currently permits a maximum of 651,500 gallons per day of Ballona’s groundwaters to be either thrown away into the ocean and/or the sanitary sewer as part of their CleanUp & Abatement Order 98-125 for decontamination of the historic industrial waste of the HowardHughes, McDonald-Douglas toxic legacy. 
Since, 2001, the LARWQCB has allowed for greater volumes of Ballona’s groundwaters and stormwaters to be pumped out, diverted and thrown away, resulting in 17 years of dewatering and drying out of the adjacent, unique coastal freshwater-- Ballona Wetlands.  How much degradation to Ballona’s freshwater aquifers has occurred due to saltwater intrusion caused by the dewatering? 
Grassroots Coalition is requesting a proactive approach to ongoing control of dewatering activities at Playa Vista which will minimize the overall negative impacts to the natural features of Ballona Wetlands.  
The beneficial use, of the significant volumes of fresh water being pumped and diverted out from under Playa Vista,  is being actively denied to Ballona Wetlands.  Why? 
The GC CalEPA Complaints and the GC California Coastal Commission Complaint are requesting answers and action to restore Ballona’s freshwater to Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.
Department of Fish & Game and State Water Resources Control Board
Overall Goal Statement-
To: Increase the abundance and diversity of California’s wetlands and riparian areas, and to 
sustain and enhance the delivery of ecosystem services.
Executive Order 11990- Protection of Wetlands.
Section 1. (a) Each agency shall provide leadership and shall take action to minimize the destruction, loss or degradation of wetlands, and to preserve and enhance the natural beneficial values of wetland in carrying out the agency’s responsibilities.  Ballona’s oversight is inclusive of  federal, state & local agencies that are able to work in concert to protect Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.
The diagram below, depicts the California Coastal Conservancy’s plan  to further degrade the freshwater aquifers of Ballona by creating a salt marsh as similarly agreed upon in a 1990 Settlement Agreement with Playa Vista developers. The Ca. Coastal Conservancy does not address the freshwater aquifers of Ballona in restoration concepts and failed to alert the public to the drying out of Ballona via illegal drains that were recently capped after the California Coastal Commission cited the drainage as causing harm to the wetlands and a violation of the Coastal Act.
LARWQCB dewatering volumes of a few years ago—950,000 gpd are depicted in blue overlay.  The freshwaters of Ballona need to be returned and restored to Ballona Wetlands.  
The ongoing dewatering and diversion of Ballonas ground and storm waters is the drying out of a wetland.
The Artificial Drying of Ballona Wetlands
Violating the Coastal Act, Playa Capital LLC inserted  rainwater drainage devices, unpermitted by the 
California Coastal Commission.  For approximately 20 years the Playa Vista mega development 
owners have been draining and throwing Ballona’s rainwater, into the ocean.  And, since 2003, the 
California Department of Fish & Game (CDFW)has allowed the drainage to continue.  
A recently won Settlement Agreement by Grassroots Coalition against Playa Capital LLC and the 
California Dept of Fish & Wildlife(CDFW), included a California Coastal Commission(CCC) investigation, 
and CCC letters  to both Playa Capital LLC & CDFW announcing the violations, seeking to end the 
drainage. The Settlement Agreement provided for CDFW to apply for a Coastal Development 
Permit (CDP) to stop the drainage.  CDFW applied for a CDP to cap the drains and the Coastal 
Commissioners approved an immediate (30 days) interim capping and required CDFW to also 
apply for a CDP to REMOVE THE DRAINS within 180 days.  
The decades long drainage of Ballona’s rainwaters has had no evaluation of its harm to the wetlands, 
no hydrology report of Ballona itself exists within the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for 
Ballona. The DEIR information was performed by the Ca.Coastal Conservancy’s contractors, who 
are—in the main, Playa Vista’s long time contractors.
Playa Vista Methane Mitigation Dewatering
The City of LA, Dept. of Sanitation has allowed  17 years of pumping and dewatering 
underneath the building sites of Playa Vista to ensure a lowered water table in order to 
keep experimental oilfield gas mitigation systems free of clogging groundwater and 
sediments.  In 2001-2 the Playa Vista site was discovered to be one of the largest 
oilfield gas leakage areas in the U.S.  Experimental gas mitigation systems became 
new Methane Code requirements for Playa Vista called the PLAYA VISTA METHANE 
CITYWIDE METHANE CODE was born based upon the PVMPDMP.
The City of LA Findings from the 2001 Task Force-
‘found the occurrence of methane in soil gas to be correlated with the location of oil wells, 
oil fields, underground gas storage facilities, and landfills.’ pg.3
“Known potential methane hazard areas are in the vicinity of gas sources such as landfills, 
oil wells, oil fields and underground gas storage facilities.” pg. 4
(The LA City Council's approval of the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst’s Report (CLA) in 2001, disallowed residential development west of Lincoln Blvd. due to the  potential  hazards associated with SoCalGas oil/gas reservoir operations adjacent to Playa Vista.  In 2003, the remaining portions of Ballona Wetlands, west of Lincoln Blvd. and north of Ballona Channel, were acquired via public bonds and by the state.) 
None of the cumulative dewatering of Ballona’s freshwater aquifersand stormwaters has been evaluated to consider protecting the historic freshwater that nurtures Ballona Wetlands.
Based upon hearsay, the 1990 Settlement Agreement, (which ended a land use dispute 
between the California Coastal Commission and the ‘Friends' of Ballona Wetlands),  
mislabeled the unique, freshwater aspects of Ballona Wetlands -- as saltwater wetlands. 
The Settlement Agreement’s parties divvying up Ballona land included the developers of 
Playa Vista, who promoted their designs upon Ballona to include a parcel (Area A) within 
which they wanted to create a new marina, allowing intrusion of saltwater.  The Settlement 
Agreement included the Playa Vista developers’ plans to dig out other parcels of Ballona, 
allowing for further degradation by saltwater intrusion.  The parcels were to be intrinsic 
flood control areas for the development.  The plan to dig out Ballona was born.  
The Friends of Ballona Wetlands Settlement Agreement managed to allow a catch basin 
portion of the development’s flood control to be placed west of Lincoln Blvd. with an 
outlet to Ballona Channel that would throw away Ballona’s stormwater and water that 
was cleansed of contamination from the Howard Hughes historic toxic sites. (LARWQCB 
Clean Up & Abatement Order 98-125)  The Army Corps of Engineers and the California 
Coastal Commission were both quick to provide permits, that were a part of the 1990 
Settlement Agreement, to Playa Vista developers prior to any Environmental Impact 
Report being done onsite.  ( 90-EV-463 Army Corps, Coastal Development Permit 5-91-463 
CA. Coastal Commission)
Wetland impacts from groundwater withdrawals, March 2016 Snapshots
In Minnesota-                                                                                                                              
"In general terms, long term dewatering has a greater potential to cause significant impact, compared to short term dewatering.”
At Playa Vista, directly adjacent to Ballona, long term dewatering has been occurring for 
approximately 20 years with no cumulative study to determine the water resource impacts 
and environmental consequences and/or mitigation potentials to restore the freshwater to 
Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve—a freshwater dependent wetland.
"Natural groundwater flow plays an important role in sustaining many natural water dependent 
features such as rivers, springs and wetlands.  Groundwater control by pumping can potentially 
intercept groundwater which would normally reach these water-dependent features.  If this occurs 
then river and spring flows may reduce or water levels fall in wetlands and ponds.”
It is essential that the design is based on a thorough site investigation, including a desk study, to 
allow hydro-geological conditions and environmental receptors to be identified.  It is also prudent 
to have extensive pre-construction monitoring of groundwater levels, spring flows, ground levels, 
etc to determine baseline conditions against which any impacts can be assessed.”
-No studies have been done by either LARWQCB and/or the LA Dept. of Sanitation to 
determine the effects upon Ballona Wetlands due to the voluminous, long term and 
ongoing dewatering and drawdown of Ballona’s aquifers under Playa Vista.
- In meetings, LARWQCB staff have stated that in areas under Playa Vista, as much 
as 20 feet of lowering groundwater has occurred.
-No baseline monitoring, assessment or comparisons with the hydrology studies done 
in 1990,  have been done on Ballona pertaining to its hydrogeology in studies done for 
the DEIR for Ballona’s restoration.
-No mention of all the adjacent Playa Vista lowering of the groundwater table via multiple 
dewatering devices and no mention of the drainage devices in Ballona itself was included 
in the DEIR.
Assessment of the Ecological Impacts of Ground Water Overdraft on Wetlands and Riparian Areas in the United States
The following 2 links and copy, while going back into the 1960s—reveals what we already know today, WATER IS EXTREMELY VALUABLE AND NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED.
Water Supply & Irrigation Papers of the USGS
The volumes of dewatering occurring under the buildings at Playa Vista, in order to lower the water table and disallow any groundwater and rainwater (which Playa Vista developers have classified as ‘NUISANCE WATER’) from infiltrating the gas mitigation systems, has only been partially determined.  Methodology for measurement  has been either lacking entirely and/or was not to industry standard.  The Department ofnSanitation has however, simply allowed for the throw-away of these life-giving waters, without consideration to its beneficial uses for Ballona Wetlands.
Grassroots Coalition is requesting the multiagency review and coordination take place to restore Ballona’s beneficial groundwaters and rainwater for use in Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.  
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME in reading this letter and Grassroots Coalition looks forward to further meetings toward achieving the goal of restoring Ballona’s surface waters and recharging Ballona’s freshwater aquifers.
Patricia McPherson, Grassroots Coalition
Ballona Wetlands Aquifers-
Links for Ballona (Watershed) Menu: