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Del Mar Fairgrounds Treatment Wetland

Del Mar, CA

Client: 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA)

Project Partner: Fuscoe Engineering

1.7M gal

Wetland Capacity


Nutrient Removal

Project Summary:

Great Ecology was part of an interdisciplinary team led by Fuscoe Engineering 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 (East) pond, a constructed wetlands system (West Pond), and a wastewater treatment facility. Great Ecology provided planting plans and oversight for the East Pond and designed the West Pond 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 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.

Utilizing Vertical & Horizontal Flow

Designing a treatment wetland system that features both vertical and horizontal flow wetlands in an optimal sequence was an ideal design solution given the limited space within the Fairgrounds. Combined with proper maintenance and plant harvesting, this treatment wetland system removes 50% - 75% of nutrients from effluent.


Vertical Wetland Cross Section
Vertical Flow
Horizontal Wetland Cross Section
Horizontal Flow
Del Mar Constructed Wetlands
West Pond Before
Del Mar Fairgrounds treatment wetland under construction
Wetland Construction