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Marina Del Rey's Oxford Basin gets a makeover

When the Oxford Basin in Marina Del Rey was built in 1959, it only had one purpose: to provide flood risk management to the surrounding communities. Almost 60 years later, a $14.5 million renovation has helped turn it into a multifaceted facility with increased flood protection and the chance for the public to use it for recreation.

Over the years, the basin accumulated a significant amount of sediment that was contaminated by urban runoff and created a stench in the area, Kerjon Lee from the Los Angeles County Public Works Department told KPCC. About 3,000 cubic yards of polluted soil was trekked out to make way for the renovated area.

In addition to the removal of the sediment, which will increase the amount of water it can contain, Lee said that the project made it possible to cultivate a rich, urban ecosystem.

Most of the existing trees and plants were rotting — they were replaced with 730 native trees and 45,000 other native plants. Lee said that this ushered in a habitat for local wildlife. The list of new greenery includes 200 milkweed plants, which monarch butterflies are specifically attracted to.

Apart from the newly welcomed wildlife, Lee said that the new floodgates that were installed will significantly improve the quality of water in the basin.

“The tide gates will increase the circulation of saltwater and freshwater within the basin, and that’ll cut down on any algae that might have been growing in the past,” he said.

Another part of the project aimed at improving water quality using a vegetated berm that sits in the middle of the basin. Lee said that it will enhance circulation in the body of water and create a natural tide.

The project created a connection with the 20-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail, with plenty of pathways for pedestrians, Lee added.

“Recreation is so key and important — as well as open space — to the public’s quality of life, and we found an opportunity to increase flood protection, protect water quality and also increase the opportunities for the public to get out and enjoy nature,” he said.

Funds for the project used a combination of state grants and $1 million from L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe’s office.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained errors regarding cost and amount of polluted soil removed. KPCC regrets the error.