After more than a year under construction, the San Fernando Regional Park Infiltration Project is expected to be operational in August and the baseball field it’s placed under will be open to the public in September. Sod — or turf — will be placed over the field around late July or early August, which is predicted to mature in September. Once it does, the baseball field will be open to the public.

The project, which began in April 2022 at San Fernando Recreation Park, is expected to be completed sometime in the middle of August. Nick Kimball, San Fernando city manager, said the project is currently connected to storm drains along Glenoaks Boulevard and First Street, and in the last couple of weeks, the construction company — Ortiz Enterprises, Inc. — has been installing the irrigation system.

Once testing is complete, the flow of stormwater will be allowed to infiltrate the system. As previously reported by the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol, the infiltration system will capture runoff from approximately 70 percent of the City of San Fernando’s area — a drainage area of more than 940 acres in size.

“All the connections are made,” Kimball said. “It’s just a matter of opening a valve, but we have to get a permit. We just have to do some testing to make sure everything works.”

Stormwater chambers for the infiltration project being installed around September 2022. (SFVS Staff)

Once operational, the infiltration project, which cost an estimated $11.2 million, will collect runoff from three storm drains, remove any impurities from the water and convey it to an underground system to be infiltrated. The purpose of the project is to protect local water bodies like the Pacoima Wash and Los Angeles River from impurities while also supporting groundwater recharge for the San Fernando groundwater basin — which provides water for the city of LA.

The project would also reduce the impact of heavy rain in San Fernando. In early 2023, California was beset by severe rainstorms. Data from the National Weather Service reports that an average of 27.6 inches of rainwater fell on the state between Oct. 1, 2022, and March 20, 2023. In Los Angeles, an estimated 28.4 inches of rain fell between July 2022 and June 2023.

Similarly, last year in March — before work on the project began — more than an inch of rain fell in parts of the San Fernando Valley and Southern California, filling the Pacoima Wash with rushing water. The park had become flooded, soaking the field and the recreation area.

Although the infiltration project doesn’t benefit San Fernando or its residents directly, as none of the water in the basin goes to the independent city, it does reduce the likelihood that Los Angeles would have to take more water from the nearby Sylmar basin, which is shared by San Fernando and Los Angeles.

If the San Fernando basin were to run out of water, the city of LA would need to use more water from the Sylmar basin, leaving less for San Fernando and increasing the amount of water the City has to buy from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) to make up the difference. San Fernando has already been buying water from MWD since April 2022 after one of its four wells in the Sylmar basin had to be shut down due to a large concentration of harmful nitrates.

The project will have taken 16 months to complete — one month longer than the estimated time projected last year.