Arroyo Seco Watershed Sustainability Campaign

The Arroyo Seco Watershed Sustainability Campaign (ASWSC), developed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation (ASF) in partnership with stakeholders in the Council of Arroyo Seco Organizations, is a targeted program to improve the reliability and management of local water resources in the Arroyo Seco, a key tributary of the Los Angeles River.

In the past decade, water quality problems and rising water consumption levels among some users have led to an increased reliance on imported water in this region of Los Angeles County. Studies conducted for the Raymond Basin Management Board have identified a significant overdraft of the groundwater basin linked to the Arroyo Seco. Local agencies are highly motivated to meet these challenges. Now there is a new realization that collaborative watershed planning management is the solution to developing a sustainable water program.

The organizational mechanisms are in place. For seven years local agencies and organizations in the Arroyo Seco Watershed have been working together to plan and implement an ambitious watershed restoration and management program. It began with the Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Feasibility Study developed by North East Trees and ASF with extensive public outreach and agency support. That plan assessed watershed conditions and recommended a series of programs and projects to improve the health and management of the watershed. Among the key recommendations was the establishment of organizational vehicles to achieve watershed management goals. CASA, the Council of Arroyo Seco Agencies, has been bringing together the key agencies in the Watershed for the last five years. CASO, the Council of Arroyo Seco Organization, is the forum for stakeholders, community and environmental organizations, businesses, and cultural institutions. These two bodies have become structures for communications and cooperation, significantly enhancing significant advances in watershed management. ASF is represented on and provides staffing support to both CASO and CASA and manages the Arroyo Seco Watershed Coordination program.

CASA agencies have also been working with County of Los Angeles and the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop the Arroyo Seco Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. On October 28, 2005, the Corps of Engineers together with watershed agencies, held a kick-off meeting for that $2.7 million study, which offers the promise of invaluable technical analysis and financial support to achieve watershed management goals.

ASWSC will solidify these organizational developments by mobilizing watershed agencies and organizations through a series of programs designed to improve the reliability of local water resources and reduce the reliance on imported water. The commitment of watershed agencies and organizations will be codified and implemented through an Arroyo Seco Greenway Agreement that will incorporate watershed management goals and programs.

Key ASWSC Tasks and Objectives:

  • Source Water Awareness - Educate local residents about the value of local water resources and their relationship to the Bay Delta Ecosystem through a Source Water Awareness program;
  • CASO/CASA Greenway Agreement - Support, expand and empower CASO and CASA through program development, staffing support and implementation of a Greenway Agreement that incorporates watershed management goals;
  • Watershed Assessment - Working cooperatively with the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Arroyo Seco Watershed Feasibility, develop a comprehensive, balanced approach to water resources, flood and stream management and habitat restoration;
  • Local Supply Reliability - Help improve the reliability of local water resources through public education and outreach regarding key groundwater management issues, including contamination, storage and management; broad public outreach regarding the potential of water recycling will be conducted;
  • Conservation Campaign - Reduce per capita consumption of water through coordinated conservation programs involving water agencies and the public featuring a California Friendly Landscaping Campaign and an educational native plant nursery.

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The Watershed

The Arroyo Seco is one of the most spectacular and diverse watersheds in California. Part of the Los Angeles River system, the Arroyo Seco connects the San Gabriel Mountains with downtown Los Angeles. ASWSC will support and facilitate watershed improvement efforts in this high profile wildland/urban interface, furthering the collaborative approach to planning and management that has been developing. The ASWSC will bring together agencies, organizations and residents in a comprehensive watershed management campaign to reduce local reliance on imported water and to improve water quality for people and the environment.

The Arroyo Seco is a diverse watershed in every way. It combines a rugged upper watershed including wilderness areas with an urban plain and streamzone. It includes some of the most affluent and comfortable communities in California as well as densely populated, disadvantaged neighborhoods. The underserved neighborhoods of Northwest Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles will be a focus of stewardship outreach in ASWSC.