The Clean Water Act applies to the LA River

Posted on | July 8, 2010 | 1 Comment

Have concrete, will create. A painting from last year's exhibit “The Ulysses Guide to the Los Angeles River" at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. For background on the show and grafitti culture of the LA River, click on the image.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reversed an earlier US Army Corps of Engineers classification of the Los Angeles River as un-navigable, a term that exempted it from protection under the Clean Water Act.

After William Mulholland and Los Angeles tapped Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra for its water in 1913, in the 1930s, the Corps paved the LA River, the city’s original source. This turned the river into a main drain of a county-wide flood control system. The upshot: Los Angeles drained the Eastern Sierra, destroying the once crystaline Owens Lake and nearly destroying the neighboring Sierra Mono Lake, while the city that Mulholland’s aqueduct made possible pumped its own native rainfall along with its unfiltered, highly polluted urban run-off into the Pacific.

Ironically, while the river was paved during the last great economic depression, this recession looks likely to lead to at least partial unpaving and re-naturalizing. This reclassification of the river by the EPA may prove a seminal moment in Los Angeles reforming its long-perverse water management. The Los Angeles Times has the story; an estactic LA Creek Freak has the video and Aquafornia has more links.

UPDATE: 7/9/2010: The Los Angeles Times editorial board is happy too.

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One Response to “The Clean Water Act applies to the LA River”

  1. News and Events – 13 July 2010 « L.A. Creek Freak
    July 13th, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    […] video here. Some worthwhile coverage:  KPCC radio has excellent audio. Other good reads at Chance of Rain, High Country News, Ballona Blog, Curbed L.A., LAist, River Network, Modern Hiker, and even Mayor […]

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