Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Same As It Ever Was

Angelinos have witnessed some serious rain in the last several weeks, leaving many streets flooded and freeways clogged. While the sudden burst of rain may seem like just a peculiarity in our otherwise sunny climate, we've experienced heavy rains for several decades now, but the streets of Los Angeles remain underfunded and ill-prepared.

Jefferson Boulevard, 1951
(courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library)

San Fernando Road, 2010
(courtesy of Los Angeles Times)

A few cities have taken the lead in solving the perennial crisis. Sun Valley, a small industrial town north of Los Angeles, sits at the base of the Verdugo mountains. The city has taken proactive steps to combat the dangerous trio of flash flooding, droughts, and forest fires that plague many L.A. communities every year. It has devised strategies that capture excessive rainwater and prevent both urban runoff and street flooding. TreePeople, a non-profit environmental organization, was instrumental in the Sun Valley watershed project. Their proposed plan, which was completed in 2006, is detailed here.

In addition to a comprehensive watershed management plan, the city has redesigned streetscapes to better handle flash floods, like the Tuxford Green Multiuse Project. As TreePeople explains:

The project redesigned the intersection with a flood control system that conveys most stormwater under, instead of into, the busy intersection. Some of the water is stored in a 45,000-gallon cistern to be used for irrigating the landscaping at the new pocket park, which is planted with native and drought-tolerant species.

Water is an extremely precious resource in California. When the rain comes in waves, you might as well capture it.

*By the way, I'm Best Friend, and I'll occasionally fill up Sara's shoebox while she's away in Pakistan.

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