Del Mar Constructed Wetlands

Image demonstratting a maritime forest with prevaling winds, tidal marsh, and a varied landscape
New Stapleton Waterfront Infrastructure & Park Design
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Great Blue Heron hunting in a pond, with cattail in the background
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Del Mar Constructed Wetlands

Aerial view of Del Mar fairgrounds
Great Ecology was part of an interdisciplinary team to tackle the challenge of treating surface water runoff from the Del Mar Fairgrounds to meet Regional Board discharge requirements. The full stormwater treatment facility includes backstretch conveyance infrastructure, lift stations, a settling (receiving) pond, a constructed wetlands system, and a wastewater treatment facility. Great Ecology’s role was the design of constructed treatment wetlands that will efficiently remove nutrients from effluent prior to it entering the wastewater treatment facility by promoting different nutrient cycling processes in an optimal sequence. The design team understood that different removal processes are optimized in different types of constructed wetlands in a certain order. The constructed wetlands system therefore promotes phosphorus removal and one part of the nitrogen cycle in a vertical flow wetland, then continuation of the nitrogen cycle and nutrient uptake in soils and vegetation in a free-water surface wetland. Effluent can be reintroduced into the system to maximize nutrient removal to help meet regulatory limits. The system is estimated to remove between 50% and 75% of nutrients from effluent and will be run at a significant cost savings to the Fairgrounds compared to non-ecologically-based systems. The constructed wetlands system is also visually appealing, which is important given its prominent location on the Del Mar racetrack. Construction of the wetlands will be completed in 2020.

About this Project

  • Nutrients Removed: 50-75% from effluent
  • Awards: Association of Environmental Professionals for Outstanding Innovation in Green Planning & Design Merit Award
  • Watershed: San Dieguito
  • Wetland Capacity: 6,683m3

Del Mar, CA