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Perceived Benefits of Constructed Wetlands in a Southern California Water District


To deal with urban runoff and stormwater polluting our waterways, cities across California are implementing low-impact development (LID). This research will look at a specific solution: natural treatment system (NTS) or constructed wetlands in Southern California. These systems vary in size, maintenance level, ability to filter pollutants, aesthetics, and others. This research works with Irvine Ranch Water District to evaluate the benefits, challenges and future of these types of systems. The research included observations of visitors to the sites, in depth interviews with nine experts, and an extensive literature review of benefits of constructed wetlands. By studying perception we are interested in how different people value these sites and how that can be used to create places community-members care about. While most find NTS sites beneficial and overall positive use of urban land, there are still disconnects between the community members and their understanding of these complex engineered systems. The future of these systems is unclear, as the benefits are battling with high costs, both for land and operation and maintenance, and what some interviewees called “messy” land uses.

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