To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, March 21, 2014

County Reconsiders Plan to Send 200 Truckloads of Dirt, Daily, Through Pasadena


By Rachel Young, March 21, 2014

Confronted with over 200 lengthy submitted comments and an expert action committee formed by the City Council, the project manager of the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project said at a meeting this week that the County is considering ways to make the project “better.”

As it stands, the proposed removal will involve one truck per minute, six days a week for five years.
 The Los Angeles County Flood District says it must remove 4 million cubit yards of sediment, enough to fill up the Rose Bowl four times, from the Devil’s Gate Reservoir to protect the county from a potential flood.

While no one argues the need for sediment removal, the method of the proposed project, outlined in the draft environmental impact report, has not sat well with Pasadena residents or council members.

“Looking at something like 5 years of 200 trucks per day and then you look at the other proposal to the south to build a tunnel through Pasadena, the picture you get is a dystopia here in this beautiful city that we have,” Councilmember Steve Madison said.

The public comment period for the draft environmental impact report closed in January and Los Angeles County is now faced with sorting through the comments and answering every comment in the final report.

“We’ve taken those comments and were looking at ways to make a better project, we’re working on our response to comments. But before we finalize that document we have a number of steps, one of which is to address some misinformation and lack of information in terms of this design criteria and sediment history,” Principal Civil Engineer for Los Angeles County Flood District Keith Lilley said.

Lilley presented an update to both the Pasadena City Council and Supervisor Michael Antonovich at a joint meeting on Wednesday.

“We don’t think our standards are overly conservative, but we do want the right information,” Lilley said.

Council members had formerly questioned Lilley about the need for the project and likelihood of a storm big enough to break the dam threshold and cause a flood. Lilley reported back that two storm events within the last century have been large enough to cause concern—the storms of 1969 and 1938.

“What various folks here are asking, including Tim Brick, is to take a step back to look at the overall program to determine whether scraping it out and trucking it out is really the long term management and solution for the county in terms of the impact on your budget and the future environmental impacts around the region,” Councilmember Terry Tornek said.

The City of Pasadena currently has a working group of six experts on sediment removal brainstorming an alternative plan to the County’s proposed project. The group will look at providing the appropriate level of flood control, but also seek to lessen the impacts on the park as well as adjacent neighborhoods.

By April the working group expects to have a recommendation for the City Manager that will focus on six areas of suggestion for the County—hydrology of the sediment behind the dam and downstream, wildlife and habitat in Hahamongna, lowering neighborhood and recreational impacts, and the long-term maintenance plan.

“We spent a Saturday with Dr. Norman Brooks, a Caltech Professor with expertise in sediment transport, that was a very informative day for us,” Director of Public Works Siobhan Foster said who is taking part in the group.

Arroyo Seco Foundation President Tim Brick brought in his own expert from Germany. Last week Dietrich Bartelt of the German hydrology firm, DB Sediments visited Pasadena. Bartelt has been tracking the Devil’s Gate sediment program from Europe and submitted comments to the County’s draft environmental impact report.

“In Europe they have standards on things like this and they have standards for upgrading rivers, and so the sediment management is now becoming part of the whole best management practice for looking at rivers in Europe,” Brick said. “He has a whole approach toward sediment management in rivers and reservoirs that uses a more environmentally friendly approach, and it’s based on kind of a slow, steady release of sediment through natural stream processes.”

Viewing sediment as a key part of river dynamics and health, Bartelt’s uses equipment like dredging equipment in order to try to move the sediment naturally through the stream system.

“The sediment in Devil’s Gate Dam was build up for almost a hundred years, so we would prefer that they develop an ongoing and slow program that removes the sediment from the base and over a longer period of time, say 10 to 15 years that would dramatically reduce the impacts on the neighborhoods, less trucks, less traffic, less pollution from the trucks and noise,” Brick said.

Brick said that when Bartelt spoke with Keith Lilley in a meeting, he voiced interest in these natural methods for other dams and facilities, but probably not for Devil’s Gate Dam.

“We hope that through Pasadena’s strong stand and the entire community’s voice and all of that, that the county will actually come up with a more ongoing, a continuing program. We want really a long term program here that will make sure that we don’t have this kind of sediment build up in the future,” Brick said.

Brick said it is so difficult to grab the attention of the county who oversees 14 dams and 162 debris structures, but he said this working group stands a chance at having a voice.

“Were tremendously grateful for the open and cooperative communication that exists between us and the county on this matter,” Bill Bogaard said.

Once the County has responded to all the questions and comments on the draft environmental impact report, a final document will be drafted and communication will continue to inform the City of Pasadena and residents.

“Michael were looking forward to receive a report in April,” Supervisor Antonovich said to the City Manager at the conclusion of the meeting.