Pasadena Water and Power – Sierra Madre Blvd. Median

Returning A Median Back To The Floodplain

The Sierra Madre Median Project is a part of Pasadena Water and Power’s Hugelkultur Demonstration Project. The one acre median is being reimagined as one of many, long, wide median strips dividing Sierra Madre Boulevard and demonstrating a “whole-systems” approach including a biodiverse urban forest that relies on much less water.

The Median Project will include a series of curb cuts to allow runoff (from the westbound portion of the boulevard) to enter into forebays, diverting and channelling the water through a series of bioswales and rain gardens to aid maximum absorption. The inclusion of hugelkultur berms not only offers a place for local “green waste” to compost onsite, but to increase water holding capacity. These mounding features affect an undulating series of landforms, a living connection with the rain gardens, to emulate a land that was not dominated by the lawn mower.

Hyperlocal native plants, once established, would need a fraction of the supplemental water lawns and non-native plants have required to survive in our summer-dry climate. The careful selection of plants also supports pollinators, insects, birds and other wildlife to address the decline in global biodiversity.

Pasadena Water and Power has taken the lead in forward thinking approaches to reducing the wasteful use of potable water, a precious resource, all while building community strength and resilience and renewing the living systems of the City of Pasadena.

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