Woodman Avenue, Bicycles and Fish

February 28, 2014 § 3 Comments

Rainfall makes a creek out of the newly completed Woodman Avenue green street medians.

This morning’s rainfall makes a creek out of the newly completed Woodman Avenue green street medians.

I just posted an article at L.A. Streetsblog that wouldn’t be out of place at L.A. Creek Freak.

It’s the first part of a series where I’ll be exploring the connections between streets and creeks. I’ll be highlighting various green street projects, this article shows off the recently opened  Woodman Avenue Multi-Beneficial Stormwater Capture Project – a collaboration of The River Project and the City of Los Angeles.

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!

LINKS:

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)

CENTENNIAL EVENTS:

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.

Happy surprises for Thanksgiving day

November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

A year ago, my Thanksgiving post was a tribute of sorts to an endangered species, the Vaquita marina, and a reflection on our consumption of water – an important cause of distress for this brackish-water dwelling, small porpoise:

I can tell you now, I thought that the tribute was an elegy to a dying species, the pitch for water conservation quite possibly a lost cause.  But I needed to learn more, to see this in person – even if that meant dragging out the melancholy. And so, I teamed with Josh Link on a series, Explorations of the Lower Colorado River – a humbling and amazing trip in which we saw how a people’s love for a land, commitment to all species, and creativity and capability was being rewarded, poco a poco, with adjustments and agreements and funding and projects that kept some habitat on life support.  But what was really needed was water for the river, for the delta.

This week, the hard work of these environmentalists in the Mexico and US border region has been rewarded:  a landmark pact between the two nations recognizing the delta’s need for water, and other measures.  It is a five-year treaty, so the flows are not secure. But it is an incredible beginning.

Today’s Thanksgiving celebrates an newfound abundance for a long-withered waterway, a lifeline and hope.

Congratulations, to all involved.

In the news:

National Geographic: A historic binational agreement gives new life to the Colorado River Delta

LA Times:  U.S. Mexico reach pact on Colorado River water sale

Huffington Post: An historic step towards saving the Colorado River and Delta

You can also see photos and news about the delta at the Save the Colorado River Delta Facebook page.  They’ve also posted video of Mexico’s Director General of the National Water Commission talking about the pact.

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 »

Explorations of the Lower Colorado River #3: The River in Mexico

May 8, 2012 § 12 Comments

An aerial of the Colorado River Delta Region taken during the drought of 1990. The Gulf of California is located in the bottom right, the Salton Sea in the top left. The bright green patchwork areas in the middle of the image are the Mexicali and Imperial Valleys. Between the tapestry of fields and the Sonoran Desert to the east, the dark green spot near the middle of the image is La Cienega de Santa Clara, the last remaining wetland of the Delta Region. (Image Credit: Alejandro Hinojosa)

Upon crossing the border threshold on foot at Los Algodones, we were met by the smiling faces of Osvel, Juliana and Isobet, the dedicated staff of Pronatura Noroeste. Our guides would prove to be among the most generous, hospitable people we have encountered in our travels. While absorbing the unfolding story of a lost river waiting to be found once again, we were simultaneously pulled headfirst into the ramifications of what we heard. Revelatory moments are scarce in an age of excessive information and we took care in absorbing a dose of pure, unadulterated perspective. At the end of the day, every blade of turf, every kidney-shaped swimming pool, every rinsed-off sidewalk, every broken sprinkler head, every drop of discarded greywater would forever hold new significance… « Read the rest of this entry »

Explorations of the Lower Colorado River #2: the River in Yuma

March 30, 2012 § 14 Comments

DWP-Driving while photographing. Looking upstream from Penitentiary Road.

I found myself in Yuma, AZ, looking down the banks of the Colorado River from the old Quartermaster’s Depot, a complex of old adobe and more recently constructed buildings with a bright green lawn in its large central court.  After a long drive through the California desert, the lawn was a little surreal, but not nearly as much as the sight of an irrigation canal I’d seen, flowing at full-tilt, through a nearby residential neighborhood.  It almost looked like any number of our flood control channelized waterways at mega-flood stage – except the sun was shining brightly upon us.  And like the flood channels, the irrigation canal was flanked by an access road and a bike path, although it was lacking the requisite chain link fence that Los Angeles liability lawyers would have no doubt imposed on the canal, as that baby was pumping.  And yet, even with tidy single-family dwellings dotting the street, it seemed barren, lonely.  The streets were absent people – pedestrians, children playing, bicyclists.  It was 70˚F outside.

Standing there, on the banks near a defunct stream gage, the dissonance between the earthtones of the desert, the hard greys and greens of asphalt and concrete and cars and lawn and monocultured lettuce fields, of industrial development’s footprint on the land and on this withered anemic river, whose water seemed almost still, made me a little dizzy.

But, unbeknownst to me, I was fighting a bacterial blood infection (and then some), so if my impressions seem fevered and lurid, well, it may have just been me – or Proteus OX-19.

But back to the river, and the Quartermaster’s Depot.

This, along with an old jail, are two of the oldest buildings in Yuma, on high ground, looking over the Colorado River. The Quartermaster’s is where mules were kept, hauling goods out of the steamers coming up from the Sea of Cortez (aka Gulf of California).

Is the visual of a steamship coming up this channel playing tricks with your mind?  « Read the rest of this entry »

Explorations of the Lower Colorado River, #1: Motivation & the Vaquita Marina

March 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

The Lower Colorado River’s been getting some good attention in the media lately(1, 2).  And Creek Freak Josh Link and I have also recently been exploring the river and its issues, and look forward to presenting a series of posts on the topic.

It all started for me with the vaquita porpoise.

In 2005 I was a watershed coordinator tasked with addressing issues of water conservation in the Ballona Creek watershed.  As odd as that may sound to people expecting a watershed coordinator to focus, on, say, the watershed itself, that’s how the grant worked.  Chalk it up to Bay-Delta politics.  That mandate, however, did me an eye-opening favor.  For as much as I understood that most of our water was imported, I’d never bothered to consider how those far-away places were impacted by our big straws.  A little self-education via Google’s search engine opened up a world of dessicated wildlands, endangered species, and amazement at how completely we lack perspective when we talk about water “demand”(1, 2). « 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.

Hope takes the 3:10 to Yuma (and the lower Colorado River)

December 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Speaking of the lower Colorado River, check out this wonderful video giving some historical context, issues and hope:

Click on image for link to video.

The rebound of bird species is particularly notable with this restoration project, where the prior, degraded, condition included filled channels, disconnected wetlands, and a lack of natural flooding resulting in the loss of habitat diversity and a thicket of non-native species.  Reflecting on some local arguments, I see that a combo of hand labor and big machines were used, dredging for floodplains and re-establishment of channels.  Restoring flooding with “industrial style” restoration with adaptive management techniques might not always be so bad after all…

For more info, here’s a slide show and an article in the journal Ecological Restoration.

Thanks to Fred Phillips, a Flagstaff-based landscape architect, who shared this link about his work with me when I went to visit the Friends of the Rio de Flag earlier this year.

 

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