Malibu Legacy Park Integrated Water Improvements

Legacy Park in Malibu, California attracts thousands of visitors every year to its 15 acres of open space. The park is located at the terminus of the Malibu Creek watershed where Malibu Creek drains into the Malibu Lagoon. As the primary drainage channel for the watershed, Malibu Creek historically experienced a number of water quality impairments. This meant that Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon, and Surfrider Beach—where the lagoon periodically discharges—were listed as impaired water bodies for bacteria and nutrients. Working with us, the City of Malibu created an integrated water quality management plan to improve water quality in the watershed.

We performed the planning and design for this high visibility, multi-benefit project that accomplished the goals of improving water quality in the area’s water bodies and restoring its natural resources. The project involved constructing an 8 acre-foot vegetated stormwater detention basin, intermittent wetlands, and riparian habitat, allowing the park to ultimately detain all design stormwater flow from the area. Flow is then eventually released from storage in a controlled manner to allow for ozone treatment at the Civic Center Stormwater Treatment Facility. Treated stormwater is returned to the park for irrigation use, supplemented by recycled water from a local development.

The project also included redesigning the main roadway paving, including the use of permeable pavers in parking areas, traffic control, curb, gutter and sidewalk design, new stormwater catch basins, and modification and relocation of existing stormwater infrastructure.

Protecting endangered species’ habitat

Malibu Creek and Lagoon are a valuable spawning and rearing habitat for the tidewater goby and have been identified as prime habitats for restoring and protecting steelhead, both of which are endangered species. While Malibu Lagoon is separated from Surfrider beach by a sandy berm, when the berm is breached during the dry season from the increase in flow caused by dry-weather urban runoff, it threatens these endangered species habitats. This project eliminates summer dry-weather discharges to Malibu Creek to ensure this area can continue to serve as a critical habitat for these fish.

Due to the numerous benefits this project has resulted in, it has been the recipient of various awards including the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Region 9 Project of the Year and the American Public Works Association’s Southern California Chapter’s Project of the Year.


City of Malibu


National Practice Leader
Water Resources