L.A. Aqueduct Centennial: Events of the Day

November 5, 2013 § 3 Comments

A crowd of 30,000 arrived by car, wagon, and buggy for dedication ceremonies at the Sylmar Cascades on November 5, 1913. The San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce distributed bottles of Owens River water to the celebrants. The Southern Pacific charged $1 for a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to the site of the San Fernando Reservoir near Newhall. (Los Angeles Public Library Image Archive)

A crowd of 30,000 arrived by car, wagon, and buggy for dedication ceremonies at the Sylmar Cascades on November 5, 1913. The San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce distributed bottles of Owens River water to the celebrants. The Southern Pacific charged $1 for a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to the site of the San Fernando Reservoir near Newhall. (Los Angeles Public Library Image Archive)

As many local creek freaks know, today marks 100 years since William Mulholland presided over the dedication ceremony for the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct at the Sylmar Cascades where he famously proclaimed “There it is Mr. Mayor. Take it.” The City of Los Angeles and local organizations have planned a number of events to mark the occasion. A handful of them are listed below. Also below is a list of informative and/or beautiful sites dedicated to the history and significance of our relationship with the Owens Valley. As always, feel free to add anything in the comments. Thanks and enjoy!


There It Is – Take It! (a fantastic audio tour of the Owens Valley)

There It Is. Take It. (BOOM)

The Owens Valley Timeline (BOOM)

L.A. Aqueduct Centennial Page (LADWP)

The L.A. Aqueduct at 100 (KPCC)

A Self-Guided Tour of the L.A. Aqueduct (KCET)

The Construction of the L.A. Aqueduct (some great old photos)

The Lake Project (David Maisel)


Today, 12:00pm: Commemorative Reenactment at the L.A. Aqueduct Cascades

The reenactment event at the Cascades is open to the media and invited guests only due to space limitations. A public celebration will be held at LADWP headquarters downtown, where a live simulcast of the Cascades event will be shown on monitors located around the perimeter of the building.  Attendees can view the lobby exhibit dedicated to Water and Power history, centered on the L.A. Aqueduct, and enjoy refreshments and celebratory Centennial cake. The reenactment can also be seen live on Channel 35 or online at LAaqueduct100.com.

Today, 5:30pm: Opening of Just Add Water

The Natural History Museum presents large-scale watercolor works by Los Angeles artist Rob Reynolds, inspired by the L.A. Aqueduct that brought water to a thirsty region.

Today & Tomorrow, 9:30am – 5:00pm: Free Days at the Natural History Museum

Free admission on both days. Every visitor will receive a bottle of water commemorating the opening of the L.A. Aqueduct and have the chance to be a part of the next 100 years by signing a register destined for a new time museum time capsule.

Tomorrow through December 6th, Aqueduct Futures Project

Created in collaboration with 130 Cal Poly Pomona students who designed landscape strategies to enhance the resilience and adaptability of Los Angeles’ aging water infrastructure. Aqueduct Futures Project establishes a road map to resolve the conflict between the City and the Owens Valley. On display at the Bridge Gallery located at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Downtown L.A. Closing reception to be held on December 3rd from 9:00am to 11:00am.

Tomorrow, 5:30pm: Time Capsule Creation at the Natural History Museum

To be held on the steps of the NHM 1913 Building. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the L.A. Aqueduct and NHM, with remarks by civic leaders, a ceremonial lighting of the Expositon Park Fountain, and a display of materials that will be placed in a time capsule that will be opened in 2113.

Army Corps Releases L.A. River Ecosystem Restoration Report

September 13, 2013 § 6 Comments

Image from the cover of the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report.

Cover image from the L.A. River Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report.

This landmark report can be downloaded HERE

From the USACE website:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the City of Los Angeles, announces the availability of a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report, which includes a Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, Los Angeles County, Calif., for review and comment.  The Draft IFR is available for a 45-day review period from Sept. 20 through Nov. 5, 2013.

See below for information on the upcoming public meeting on October 17:

LARERS to send.indd

Changes at L.A. Creek Freak, Call for Contributors

September 15, 2012 § 13 Comments

The four L.A. Creek Freak blog writers: Jessica Hall, Joe Linton, Joshua Link, and Jane Tsong.

There are some changes afoot at L.A. Creek Freak.

Two of us, Jessica Hall and Joe Linton, started this forum in mid-2008. We knew we had a lot to say about creeks and streams and how they figure into Los Angeles’ past, present, and future. We wanted to reach new audiences, bring new folks down to the LA River and other rivers and streams. Challenge you to think bigger about the flood control system and storm water management.  Create a place where people could discuss local waters.

We wrote a lot, we learned a lot from folks who found us via the blog. As time progressed, two more contributors, Jane Tsong and Joshua Link, came on board to write additional posts.

Creek Freak is a labor of love. We’re all volunteers. Sometimes we’ve scooped the local media on big river stories, and sometimes we’ve gotten busy with other work and neglected our readership. Overall, we’re up to 561 posts, more than 500 subscribers, nearly 2500 comments, and nearly 500,000 visits.

We have a couple of announcements that mean Creek Freak’s future may meander a bit. « Read the rest of this entry »

Fracking in L.A.? (Workshops to be held on 6/12 and 6/13)

June 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

A Dimock, Pennsylvania resident lights their flowing tap on fire, a result of natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in a nearby field. While such effects may not occur as a result of petroleum well fracking, the shock-value of this image underscores the potential for groundwater contamination in any circumstance. (SOURCE: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com)

It is likely that many folks living in Los Angeles County are either entirely unfamiliar with hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short) or are under the impression it occurs only in distant places such as the Appalachian Basin (Marcellus Shale). This resource extraction process utilizes the high-pressure injection of thousands (and in some cases, millions) of gallons of water, sand and a proprietary blend of up to 600 chemicals (potentially including known carcinogens such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and/or formaldehyde) into deep wells to open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. While the practice is primarily associated with the natural gas industry, fracking is also a method used by the petroleum industry as a means of squeezing more production out of what were previously thought to be exhausted wells.

Diagram illustrating the process behind hydraulic fracturing and, yes, the blue strip in the middle of the image represents an aquifer. (SOURCE: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com)

For the vast majority of Angelenos, it might come as a surprise to find out that there are two local petroleum wells, VIC-1-330 (Baldwin Hills, Plains Exploration & Production Company) and DOM-1 (Dominguez Hills, Occidental Oil and Gas), that have been fracked as recently as January of this year (SOURCE: FracFocus) and according to a recent report by Christine Shearer of Truthout, fracking has occurred in the L.A. basin for some time: « Read the rest of this entry »

Sediment Management Strategic Plan Open for Public Comment Until May 30

May 15, 2012 § 6 Comments

20-Year Planning Quantities and Remaining Capacity at Sediment Placement Sites (Source: LADPW)

On the heels of a critical piece of writing by Emily Green on the state of sediment management in Los Angeles (published in the May 14th edition of High Country News), the L.A. County Department of Public Works has completed (as of April) its draft 20-year Sediment Management Strategic Plan for 2012-2032 and is currently soliciting public comments until Wednesday, May 30th. The enormous document (524 pages) is available for download at www.LASedimentManagement.com (the downloadable document entitled “Community Meeting Boards” is a conveniently concise summary of the larger plan). « Read the rest of this entry »

Cadiz wanna-be water empire gaining steam

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Someone drive a stake through the heart of this ecological vampire, once and for all.  Forwarding you today to Chance of Rain:

Cadiz, Inc today announced that it has optioned use of a derelict gas line to ship northern Californian water to the Mojave Desert for long-term storage by….

via Just say no to Cadiz stock tease.

Projects Progress in Lincoln Heights and Santa Monica

January 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

Demolition underway at the 6.3-acre Albion Dairy site in Lincoln Heights. Photos taken looking downstream from the North Spring Street Bridge. The existing Downey Recreation Center park (with green lawn) is visible on the far left. The Los Angeles River is on the right, with the North Main Street Bridge visible.

I recently spotted a couple of projects that L.A. Creek Freak has reported on that are now making on-the-ground progress. In Lincoln Heights (photo above) the Albion Dairy site industrial buildings and parking lot are well on their way to being completely demolished. Information on that planned L.A. River park here. In Santa Monica (photo below) the Ocean Park Boulevard green street project is under construction. Information on that complete street project (including its green bike lanes) here.

Construction underway on the city of Santa Monica's Ocean Park Boulevard complete green street project

Driving the Verdugo Wash

January 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Driver's trajectory through the Arroyo Verdugo - Photo from Tropico Station - click to go to larger images at Tropico Station

A unfortunate story about how our local creeks don’t look all that different from our freeways: Yesterday a woman drove her car down an access ramp and into the concrete Verdugo Wash. The Verdugo Wash (or Arroyo Verdugo) runs through the city of Glendale and enters the L.A. River across from Griffith Park.  « Read the rest of this entry »

News and Events – 25 January 2012

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment


> Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the L.A. River this month. Will plentiful federal funding for river revitalization soon follow?

> Will Campbell discovers a sweet new city of Burbank bike path along the Burbank Western Wash.

> Here’s a blog about recycled concrete rain gardens I’ve been working on with Koreatown Youth Community Center.

Sidewalk cyclist next to the new Avenue 19 bike lanes in Lincoln Heights

> The L.A. River Bike path bike lane bikeway takes a detour onto the streets of Lincoln Heights. I really really like bike lanes and I like the idea of getting them in first, then moving on to more expensive bike paths… but I fear the massive parking removal on this one here will trigger a backlash… potentially leading to future city reluctance to remove any parking anywhere ever. Even if  it’s not quite the L.A. River bikeway, it is a new precedent: the city of Los Angeles’ first completed asymmetric one-way bike lanes couplet… a treatment that I think works better on actual one-way streets. How about Cypress and Avenue 18 next?


> Elysian Valley neighbors have been experiencing some pollution issues due to Metrolink operations right across the river at Taylor Yard. Metrolink, So Cal Air Quality Management District, elected officials and the public will meet and discuss how to make the situation better. The meeting takes place TONIGHT – Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 6:30pm at the L.A. River Center, 570 W Avenue 26, L.A. 90065. More information here.

> Creek Freak’s Joe Linton will be speaking as part of the environmental media panel at the Council for Watershed Health forum on Tuesday January 31st 2012. More information at CWH website under events.

> CicLAvia returns Sunday April 15th 2012, starring the 4th Street Bridge over the L.A. River.

Creek Freak’s Top Stories of 2011

December 31, 2011 § 5 Comments

The four L.A. Creek Freak blog writers: Jessica Hall, Joe Linton, Joshua Link, and Jane Tsong.

It’s Jessica here, summarizing the thoughts of the bloggers Joe, Jane, Josh and myself about our biggest stories of 2011.

But first, I want to take a moment to note that on a personal level, 2011 marked my decade as a Creek Freak.  In 2000 I’d begun mapping LA’s waterways, but it wasn’t until I, with a team of three other landscape architecture graduate students, had completed Seeking Streams that I realized I’d been hooked by the desire to bring buried waterways back to the surface of LA.  It’s been a decade of ideas & argument, at times petty politics, and for me, standing on the outside of bureaucracies with the power to restore our landscapes, feeling like I was staring up from the base of Hoover Dam.  But on the other side of that wall are gradual changes in watershed management, still rooted in a philosophy of nature control, but testing how controlled habitats can be better managed alongside more traditional engineered structures and approaches.  I’m still waiting for that leap to working with natural processes – treating the flood channels like the streams they were.  It will happen someday.  But the fight has been good for me too, it forced me to hone my understanding of how streams function, to understand the genesis of undesirable flooding and erosion, to better relate the role of waterways within an ecosystem.  Our ecosystem.

I believe restoration and protection of waterways happens in places like Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin because the waterways supply their water (or are the early-warning system of their aquifer) and because enough people understand ecology and have some experience and appreciation of natural processes in their lives to demand restoration and protection.  A version of the Boulder story I read once stated that they ran the Army Corps out of town when the Corps came offering channelization.  A citizen-led initiative led to building restrictions over Austin’s aquifer recharge zones, and citizens informed the planning processes in Seattle and Portland that wrapped endangered species recovery in a package with Clean Water Act water quality commitments.  In LA, we mostly defer to experts.  We eschew big ideas unless someone from higher up the political hierarchy proposes it.  We sigh at the tangle of bureaucracy that makes it phenomenally difficult (and expensive) to get even a small plot of land planted, a bit of roadway striped for bicycles – something that definitely succeeds in keeping us focused on the short-term.  And we fight.  We fight opportunism of a few powerful people er, corporations, who profit by threatening our community dreams, something that also keeps us focused on the short-term, on triage.  (As members of our community, these “people,” er corporations, should share our vision.  Which vision, you ask?  Good point.)  And we fight each other.  If we have a common vision, and I’m not sure that we do, it lacks ecosystem function.

Let’s celebrate our steps towards sustainability, but with a solid vision that includes the regeneration of our degraded riparian ecosystems.  May our steps be clearly towards support of our incredible natural heritage, the biodiversity that supports us.

And with that… our top 10 stories of 2011.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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