Stearns Champions Park Well Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Background

Large groundwater basins lie beneath Los Angeles County and have served as natural reservoirs for storing water underground for millions of years. Groundwater is a water supply that is local, sustainable and cost efficient.

Long Beach has groundwater wells located throughout the city and currently has water rights to pump approximately 33,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year. This amount is enough to fulfill about 60 percent of Long Beach’s water needs. The remaining water is purchased and imported from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, or MWD.

Long Beach is fortunate to have a local groundwater supply, and adding new wells allows us to take advantage of this resource, especially as imported water becomes scarcer and more expensive.

Currently and in the coming years, Long Beach Water has plans to rehabilitate up to 20 aging wells and build 12 new wells located throughout the city.

FAQs updated August 2022.

1. Why do we need this project?

As we continue to face record-breaking drought in California, finding sustainable, local sources for water is more important than ever. Long Beach Water is working hard to ensure greater access to groundwater, which is our most reliable and affordable water source.

Through this project, we will build two new groundwater wells at Stearns Park, one of which is replacing an existing well.

Phase I

  • Well Alamitos 9A is located on the north side of the park east of E. De Ora Way. This project will replace an existing well at this site. Well drilling on this project will last about seven months, beginning in late summer/fall 2022 and conclude in spring 2023. During construction, there will be one, five-week period of 24-hour drilling.
  • Well Alamitos 14 is located on the northwest end of the park north of the community center. This is a new well construction. Well drilling on this project will last about seven months, beginning with site preparation in winter 2022-2023 and concluding in late spring 2023. During construction, there will be one, five-week period of 24-hour drilling.

Initial work for Well Alamitos 14 is set to begin as Well Alamitos 9A is wrapping up. Major construction and heavy drilling will NOT take place concurrently at the two sites.

Phase II

  • The second phase of work on both wells will take place in 2023-2024. This phase does not require 24-hour construction and includes installation of the well pump and motor, connecting it to the water main and other finishing work needed to bring the wells online.

2. Why are you building these wells in this location at Stearns Park?

Long Beach Water identifies groundwater well locations based on a variety of criteria, including groundwater quality, well production potential and site accessibility, as well as the proximity to existing water mains to minimize construction impacts and overall cost.

For more than 100 years, Stearns Park has played a critical role in groundwater production in Long Beach. There are currently three groundwater wells in the park and all have been providing our community with drinking water. This project will replace one of those wells and add one additional well.

An independent study completed in 2020 identified potential well sites based on a number of factors. Stearns Park was again identified as a key well location in our efforts to increase local pumping of groundwater.

When determining the exact location for the Stearns Park wells, Long Beach Water and its consultants conducted an in-depth analysis of potential sites and impacts. This included reviewing water lines, gas lines and other underground utilities that prohibit drilling in certain areas.

Following this analysis, the site along De Ora Way and the site adjacent to the community center were chosen.

3. How will this project affect my neighborhood? How will you address noise concerns?

The well project will have some minor impacts, including construction equipment in the park and some vehicles traveling along 23rd Street. Noise impacts and other disruptions from construction will be minimal for the homes surrounding the park.

Prior to any well drilling, we install 24-foot sound walls shielding nearby homes from the project site. The sound walls help keep noise from drilling or other construction work from becoming too disruptive to the surrounding neighborhoods.

During construction, we take regular decibel readings near the sound walls to ensure that the noise does not exceed the limits put in place by the city’s noise ordinance. We expect noise levels to be between 50-60 decibels, or dBA. That’s about the same as the hum of an air conditioner or a normal conversation.

For context, we can look at a similar well project currently underway at Jackson Park. The noise level during the drilling and boring for the wells was at 60 dBA or below, with measurements taken directly outside of the sound walls. Jackson Park is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and we have not received any noise complaints during this project.

Some portions of the drilling do require 24-hour construction for effectiveness and safety. We make every effort to minimize the construction noise during the late-night hours, conducting the noisiest parts of the project during the daytime.

View the city of Long Beach noise ordinance here.

4. Why do you need to do 24-hour construction?

Most of the well project construction can and will be conducted within normal daytime working hours from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

However, during the five-week period for the boring and construction of each well, we must continuously work 24 hours per day to ensure that the borehole is stable, does not become clogged and is able to provide a maximum amount of water once completed.

It is possible to pause drilling for weather and on the weekends; however, each time boring is stopped, it creates a greater risk that the borehole will become unstable. Limiting the stopping and starting also ensures the drilling can be completed within or before the end of the five-week period.

5. Will the well drilling impact my property? How do you know it is safe?

In spring 2022, as part of project preparation, Long Beach Water commissioned an independent geotechnical evaluation for the construction of the Stearns Park wells.

The study evaluated the soil and geological conditions at the site to provide recommendations for design and construction of the wells. By following these science-based recommendations, we’re able to ensure the project won’t cause harm to the area.

An independent hydrogeological firm will provide inspectors to monitor the project at all times during construction.

In addition to this scientific study, the project also required review and approval by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water.

The water we pump from underground comes from the Central Groundwater Basin, comprised of a series of underground aquifers beneath much of south Los Angeles County.

While groundwater is a reliable and cost-effective resource for Long Beach and the region, it’s also important for all water agencies to work together to maintain the health and safety of the groundwater basin.

The management and sustainability of the regional groundwater basin is under the control of the Water Replenishment District, or WRD, the agency that protects the local groundwater from being over pumped and provides the replenishment of water, as needed, through injection wells.

Part of WRD’s role includes regular testing of the groundwater levels and water quality of the basin and monitoring how much water can be pumped by each agency. You can read more at WRD.org.

WRD reviewed and approved the Stearns Champions Park well project.

6. How will this project impact the park and park activities?

The well construction project will have no major impacts on park activities, as both sites are located on the northern end of the park along 23rd Street and away from the playground, baseball fields and basketball courts. The areas surrounding the construction zones will be closed off to the public.

Well Alamitos 9A is not near the heavily-used areas of the park and will not have an impact on park activities or access.

Construction of the second well, Alamitos 14, will take place just north of the Stearns Champions Park Community Center. Drilling of this well will take place once summer activities at the community center are completed to minimize impacts on park users and surrounding neighbors.

The community center will remain open during construction and there will be no major impacts to activities.

During construction, one accessible parking space will be unavailable in the community center lot, but the remaining parking spaces will not be impacted.

Following completion of well construction, the parking lot is set to be rehabilitated for the benefit of the community. Final plans for the parking lot project are still in progress.

7. How will this impact neighboring schools?

There are three schools in the nearby vicinity of the project and Long Beach Water has been in close contact with leadership at all of them. We are coordinating with school administration to determine how they’d like us to inform their students and parents about the project and address any concerns they may have.

To reduce impacts on school traffic, Long Beach Water will coordinate construction schedules around drop-off and pick-up times and ensure the project does not coincide with major school activities.

8. How will this impact traffic in the area? Will there be a lot of heavy construction equipment driving in and out of the project site?

Drilling equipment and construction activity will be largely limited to the well site within Stearns Park. Most of the heavy equipment will be brought in at the beginning of the project and will remain there until drilling has concluded.

Because of the nature of this project being contained within the sound walls, truck ingress and egress is not expected to be frequent. Trucks will ingress and egress using Lakewood Boulevard to 23rd Street.

9. Why do some trees need to be removed? What have you done to save as many trees as possible?

Long Beach Water has made every effort to keep as many trees as possible around the construction sites, with consideration of neighborhood input. To ensure the wells are drilled safely and surrounding trees do not become a hazard, some trees will need to be removed for construction.

Original construction plans called for the removal of six trees in the construction area of Well Alamitos 9A. However, after listening to community concerns and input, Long Beach Water adjusted the construction site plan.

The revised plan for the Well Alamitos 9A site requires removal of four trees in the construction area: three holly oak trees and one laurel leaf snailseed tree. In addition to being in the construction area, one of these trees was identified to be infected with sooty mold and the other three have unsafe/unstable branching structure.

Two large ash trees initially slated for removal, a palm tree and a jacaranda tree near the site may need to be trimmed but will not be removed.

Following project completion and in line with city policy, eight new trees will be planted to replace the four trees that were removed.

There are six trees identified for removal in the construction area for Well Alamitos 14: three jacaranda trees, two lemon scented gum trees and one California pepper tree. All of the trees are directly in the construction area, which is between the community center and the street, and would present a safety hazard if not removed.

Upon completion of the well project, 12 new trees will be planted. In both cases, replacement trees will be selected in coordination with Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine from a tree list provided by the city, taking community suggestions into account.

See “Tree Plans” below for renderings of tree removal.

The 20 new trees at Stearns Champions Park will likely be about 6 feet tall, as recommended by city tree specialists — this provides the best chance of the root system establishing and the tree surviving and flourishing.

Planned rehabilitation of the community center parking lot (see item 10) may also require some tree removal. Long Beach Water is working directly with Parks, Recreation and Marine on plans that will best benefit the park and community center. The parking lot project would not begin until after well construction is completed, likely in late 2024.

10. What will the well sites look like after construction is completed?

Upon completion of the well construction, a small above-ground enclosure will be built surrounding the well pipes. There will be trees or bushes planted around the fencing to blend the enclosure with the park and add more greenery. The final landscaping design is still in progress.

See “Before and After” below for proposed renderings of what the finished well sites could look like and an example of a similar project at Cherry Avenue Park.

11. What is the plan to keep the new wells safe and secure after completion?

Long Beach Water secures most well sites with chain link fencing. We have found this method works best because it restricts public access while still maintaining a line of sight into the facility. We have a security plan for each well site, and coordinate with the Long Beach Police Department.

At Stearns Park, the current plan is to enclose the well site with green chain link fencing and add low hedges to help the location blend in with the surrounding environment, but not create a shelter-like environment.

If you see suspicious activity at any of our well sites, please call 911 for emergency situations, (562) 435-6711 for non-emergencies, or the Water Department Customer Service line at (562) 570-2390.

12. How is the community being informed about the project?

Community meetings were held in July 2022 and a third is planned for Aug.18. Going forward, Long Beach Water has committed to working with the surrounding neighborhood to address concerns and hear feedback.

Regular updates on the project are being provided via an email list that interested residents can sign up for, as well as the City Council District 4 weekly newsletter. All project information is hosted here at lbwater.org/stearns.

Construction notices will be distributed to the impacted area seven days and, again, 24 hours before work begins at the site. A second round of notices will be distributed seven days and 24 hours prior to 24-hour well drilling.

Long Beach Water staff are available to answer questions as the project progresses. Please contact project lead Nikolas Baykal at (562) 570-2347 or at nikolas.baykal@lbwater.org.

Construction Plans

Tree Plans

Well Alamitos 9A Tree Plan
Well Alamitos 9A Tree Plan
Alamitos 14 Tree Plan
Alamitos 14 Tree Plan

Before and After

Alamitos 9A Before And After 1
Alamitos 14 Before And After 1
Cherry Avenue Park Example

Water & Sewer System Design Guidelines