County Wants Authority Over Flood-Control Channels on L.A. River Owned by U.S. Government

Jesse Herrera, 53, carts his belongings along the L.A. River to higher ground before a rainstorm flooded his camp on an island in the middle of the L.A. River near Atwater Village in November 2018. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Jesse Herrera, 53, carts his belongings along the L.A. River to higher ground before a rainstorm flooded his camp on an island in the middle of the L.A. River near Atwater Village in November 2018. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County officials are proposing to take ownership of 40 miles of flood-control channels along the Los Angeles River from the federal government in order to expedite maintenance and water conservation improvements as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather.

The move was spurred by concerns that the Army Corps of Engineers’ World War II-era channels, including a lush soft-bottom stretch of the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and downtown, have not been adequately maintained because of dwindling federal funds, county officials said on Sunday.

It comes at a time when new research suggests that flood-control systems more than 50 years old were based on 20th century assumptions and hydrological records that do not take into account “whiplashing shifts” in extreme weather caused by climate change.

“Our desire is to have the county solely in charge of maintenance and expediting improvements up and down the river,” Mark Pestrella, deputy director of the Department of Public Works, said in an interview. “That would really help because the corps requires congressional approval to do anything at all.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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