Posted on | July 8, 2010 | 1 Comment
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.