Santa Monica has found itself on the cutting edge of modern water infrastructure in California, and the latest example of that innovation is SWIP, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP), four years in the making, that is set to open with a community celebration on Thursday morning, Nov. 17.
The project features some key innovations: a massive, 1.5-million gallon stormwater harvesting tank that stores water prior to treatment (meaning the city is far less limited in the amount of water it can process during storm events); can simultaneously treat stormwater runoff and wastewater generated in Santa Monica; is enabled to provide water for irrigation, dual-piped buildings and groundwater replenishment; and is poised to convert to potable water supply if and when state regulations permit.
SWIP is ecologically sound not only because it reduces the city’s reliance on imported water by purifying water that would otherwise run into the ocean, but also because it diverts dirty urban runoff (which contains plastics, oil, paint and other icky stuff) out of the Santa Monica Bay.
On Thursday, City staff, City Council members and State Senator Ben Allen will be among those on hand to celebrate the $95 million project with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the top side of the underground facility.
As a city press release describes it, “At the surface, SWIP looks like a parking lot at the City’s Civic Center, but beneath the surface is an example of water resiliency.” That parking lot is located between the Civic Auditorium and the Courthouse, at 1771 Main Street.
Planters on the surface level of the site mask air vents releasing filtered air up from the treatment plant, meaning SWIP is designed to not be odorous.
The free ribbon cutting event is open to the public, with visitors asked to register through Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.com/e/ribbon-cutting-event-sustainable-water-infrastructure-project-tickets-428798356427. Visitors who elect to drive to the ribbon-cutting ceremony are asked to park in the parking structure off 4th Street at Olympic Drive. City staff will be on hand to escort spectators to the ribbon cutting area.