At a Glance

Integrated water strategies at the master planning phase allow a world-renowned zoo to further its conservation mission through the management of water, stormwater, and nutrients.

Project Description

Located in the San Pasqual Valley, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of the largest tourist attractions in Southern California. Home to 3,000 animals representing more than 300 species,  this expansive wildlife sanctuary also boats a renowned botanical collection of 1.75 million specimens representing 3,500 species. In keeping with the San Diego Zoo’s conservation mission, half of the Park’s 1,800 acres have been set aside as protected native species habitat.

The animals in the Park are housed in free-range enclosures similar to their natural environments. Over time, overgrazing of these animals resulted in the accumulation of animal manure and sediment in ponds that functioned as both habitat and stormwater management. As a key member of a master planning team led by PBS&J, and with an approach that regarded the Park as its own subwatershed within the larger landscape, Biohabitats identified opportunities to improve stormwater management. Recommended techniques included stormwater wetlands for sediment control, edge details for bank protection and animal access control, and reed beds for the treatment of pond sediment and organic matter. Integrating these water strategies into the Park master plan allowed the Zoo to control nutrients and sediment in off-site stormwater discharges while also enabling water reuse for irrigation.





Expertise Areas

Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water


San Diego Zoo


San Diego, California, United States

Project Team
  • PBS&J