High good, low bad: Mead in March 2012

The steady rise of Lake Mead, clearinghouse of Colorado River water for the Southwestern US and Mexico, was heartening while it lasted. From a November 2010 low only seven feet shy of triggering shortage declarations, a steady flow into the biggest reservoir in the US throughout 2011 pushed Mead’s elevation 58 feet above the austerity line.

However, in March 2012, the level began to fall again. Look at year-on-year figures from the federal Bureau of Reclamation and it is clear that since 2000 the overwhelming trend has been downward. The entire river system, including Mead, is only 63% of what Reclamation classifies as full.

If there is good news to be had in decline, and there is, part of it is that an innovative landscape architecture instructor at Cal Poly Pomona is tweaking the founding Reclamation mission to “make the desert bloom.” Charged with leading a sustainability studio this winter,

The Dry Garden: Capturing the spirit of LA’s streams

Contemporary map of the Ballona Creek watershed with overlay of 1902 streams and wetlands. Source: "Seeking Streams" by Jessica Hall et al, 606 Studio, Cal Poly Pomona.

WHEN it snows in the mountains and rains in the basin, Jessica Hall thinks of the lost streams of Los Angeles. In fact, she thinks of them all the time. For the last nine years, the 41-year-old garden designer has been retracing the paths of the native creeks, streams and springs that once ran wild before they were filled in and paved for homes.

In the process, Hall has come to believe that the best town planning and landscape design principles for the future may lie in understanding the habits of the watercourses of the past.

Those who missed the profile of Hall last August by Times staff writer Hector Tobar have a treat in store reading about how Hall tracked down Sacatela

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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