Sediment Management Strategic Plan Open for Public Comment Until May 30
May 15, 2012 § 6 Comments
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).
In short, L.A. County plans on removing 67.5 million cubic yards from reservoirs and debris basins in the next 20 years. Currently active Sediment Placement Sites (SPS) have a remaining capacity of 48 million cubic yards. This discrepancy requires the identification of new facilities to receive the remaining 19.5 million cubic yards and a few novel approaches, including the filling of abandoned pits in Irwindale and the use of sediment for landfill cover, have been identified as options for sediment placement.
What is not discussed in the Sediment Management Strategic Plan is a longer-term solution to the current sediment management regime that will require the acquisition of new Sediment Placement Sites in perpetuity. For those who remember the story of the Arcadia Woodlands, this unsustainable reality will inevitably lead to the destruction of local wildlands. Mountain canyons will be filled, native flora and fauna will be displaced or destroyed simply because there will be no remaining space for sediment placement in the basins that comprise the megalopolis of L.A. It is a Sisyphean cycle of holding volatile slopes back only to be thwarted by the unstoppable force of gravity. Until mountains reach the sea once more, through a restored network of floodplains, the last remaining wild places in Los Angeles will be threatened with premature burial.
LADPW has acknowledged the unsustainable nature of the current flood control network explaining its future plans for developing a Long Term Flood Control District Vision Plan in the following bullet-point list (extracted from the 20-year Sediment Management Strategic Plan):
- The Long Term Flood Control District Vision will look beyond the 20-year Strategic Plan to investigate the potential
to implement more sustainable alternatives to the current flood control system as a whole.
- The Flood Control District and the Advisory Working Group are working together to develop a plan for the Long
Term Flood Control District Vision.
- Public participation is a critical component of the Long Term Vision as it aims to reflect collaboration between the
District, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the public.
To be sure (and fair), the LADPW faces an incredible challenge ahead. In the coming years, the agency will
likely hopefully reinvent itself in response to new public mandates for more sustainable watershed management practices. It has performed its dual mission of protecting the public from the threat of floods and securing water supply rather well throughout the last century. In the interest of protecting the natural heritage of Los Angeles, it is time to aspire to a more holistic mission.
Your input on the 20-year Sediment Management Strategic Plan is critical to this ongoing process and with two weeks left there is not much time to respond. Any comments can be submitted to SedimentMgmtPlan@dpw.lacounty.gov. Many thanks to Emily Green for her eloquence and accuracy.