Ballona Creek

Ballona Creek

Ballona Creek Watershed

The Ballona Creek Watershed covers approximately 130 square miles in the coastal plain of Los Angeles Basin. The watershed includes the cities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, portions of the cities of Los Angeles, Culver City, Inglewood and Santa Monica, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and areas under the jurisdiction of Caltrans. Ballona Creek watershed is highly developed with 49% of the watershed covered by impervious surfaces.
Ballona Creek flows in an open concrete channel for 10 miles from mid-Los Angeles through Culver City, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Playa del Rey (Marina del Rey Harbor). The Estuary portion, from Centinela Avenue to its outlet, is soft-bottomed and includes the Ballona Wetlands. A network of underground storm drain lines, which reach north into Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, feeds Ballona Creek. Major tributaries of Ballona Creek include Centinela Creek, Sepulveda Channel and Benedict Canyon Channel. The average dry weather flow at the mouth of Ballona Creek is 25 cubic feet of water per second. The average wet weather flow can be 10 times higher, or even more during large rain events.


Water Quality in Ballona Creek Watershed

Water quality in Ballona Creek and its related tributaries is impaired by pollutants such as trash, metal, bacteria, pesticides due to the watershed’s large, dense population and its impervious ground surface that prevents urban runoff from infiltrating into underground aquifers. To address these impairments, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has established water quality objectives called Total Maximum Daily Loads. A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is the maximum amount of a specific pollutant, such as trash or bacteria, that can be discharged into a water body without causing impairment. The federal Clean Water Act drives the development of and compliance with TMDLs. They are an important step in cleaning up LA’s waterways.

Ballona Creek Enhanced Watershed Management Program

The City of Los Angeles, in partnership with other cities, agencies and organizations, developed the Ballona Creek Enhanced Watershed Management Plan, which identifies measures and opportunities to ensure compliance with all Ballona Creek TMDLs and other water quality mandates, while maximizing potential benefits of stormwater for local water supply. (link to BC EWMP)

Ballona Creek Bacteria TMDL Project

The Ballona Creek Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Project will achieve the water quality objectives established by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board that address elevated bacteria levels and the water quality impairments of Ballona Creek and Estuary during dry weather.

The project will utilize treatment and low-flow diversion technology at three existing locations along Ballona Creek, Sepulveda Channel and Centinela Creek where water treatment or water quality facilities are already in place.

This project will improve the water quality of Ballona Creek and Estuary by reducing bacteria levels, improve public health and the beneficial uses of Ballona Creek and Estuary, while also providing a new source of freshwater to offset potable water demand by diverting a portion of the runoff to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.

The cities of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Inglewood and West Hollywood, the County of Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles Flood Control District partnered together on this project with the City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation taking the lead on the environmental review and project implementation. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and the EIR and supporting CEQA documents are available below.


LA Sanitation released the Draft EIR in August 2017 for public comment. The comment period concluded on October 16, 2017. LA Sanitation considered the public comments received on the Draft EIR to prepare the Final EIR. The Final EIR was released in April 2018. The Los Angeles City Council certified the Final EIR approving the project on June 29, 2018.