By Lauren Gold, December 17, 2013
The Devil’s Gate reservoir basin including the Devil’s Gate Dam and
Hahamonga Watershed Natural Park in Pasadena, Monday, Sept. 14, 2009.
The spillway at Devil’s Gate Dam in the Hahamongna Watershed Park in
Pasadena flows with water from the latest storms on Thursday, December
PASADENA>> City leaders and local residents are gearing up for a fight in Hahamongna Watershed Park.
with a series of options from Los Angeles County Public Works for
sediment removal in the area behind Devil’s Gate Dam, those who cherish
the park fear that the project will be the “end of Hahamongna.”
is the most insidious project I have read, it will destroy Hahamongna,”
resident Lorie Paul said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “It’s just a
massive behemoth of a project. We are facing the end of Hahamongna as
we know it.”
In a draft environmental report released in October, the county
laid out five separate proposals to deal with the removal of 2.4 to 4
million cubic yards of dirt and debris that has piled up behind the dam.
of the sediment has settled in the area behind the dam since it was
last removed in 1994.
County DPW spokesman Kerjon Lee said the project
has become even more important since the 2009 Station Fire caused more
sediment than normal to wash into the watershed.
“This is a
difficult project and there are certainly impacts that affect a number
of different areas, habitat, transportation, air quality,” Lee said.
“The plan we have indicates we are doing our best to try to mitigate
those impacts. ... We look at this in terms of sustainability, how can
we maintain flood risk management in the community so we don’t have to
come in the future?”
City officials expressed concern that the project would negatively affect Pasadena.
“The last time anything was removed was in 1994. The station fire
only deposited 1 million cubic yards of sediment and now their proposal
is removing 4 million cubic yards,” Councilman Victor Gordo said. “That
tells me (the county hasn’t) been maintaining this reservoir. ... They
are trying to play catch up now and they are trying to play catch up at
our expense and in a way that potentially destroys an ecological
resource, not to mention the recreational aspects of Hahamongna.”
Lee said the county’s goal is to reduce the negative impacts of
the project as much as possible. If nothing is done, he said, it could
lead to flooding in the area and even effects further down to the Los
Even so, city officials worry that the project
could be potentially detrimental to the area. The City Council
instructed staff to prepare to fight against the county proposals. The
council also authorized city staff to create a task force on the issue,
hire a private environmental consultant to conduct an independent
analysis of the county plans, and even suggested that lawyers be hired.
“I think we should consider engaging legal counsel to work with
the staff and our efforts in this regard day to day as we go along so
that we both protect the inadvertent forgoing of any rights or
discretion we have and so we build a strong a case as we can should we
find ourselves ending up in court in the future,” Mayor Bill Bogaard
Both the public and the council also agreed to ask the
county for an extension on the commenting period for the environmental
report. Lee said the county has already extended the comment period from
30 to 70 days and held three community meetings to get public input.
The public comment period for the draft environmental report ends
Jan. 6. The sediment removal project is scheduled to begin in 2015 and
will last for at least five years.
For more information, visit http://dpw.lacounty.gov/wrd/Projects/DevilGate.