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Arroyo Seco Foundation

News of the Arroyo


A better plan to shore up Devil's Gate Dam: Editorial





<b>February 17, 2017</b> - The San Gabriel Valley Newspapers discuss the Oroville Dam situation and local implications, advocating a smaller, slower sediment removal program for Devil's Gate Dam.


Editorial Board, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune


Pasadena Star-News


The Devilís Gate reservoir basin in the Arroyo Seco. (Staff file photo)

One thing the water-besieged Oroville dam, tallest in the nation, has going for it is that the large reservoir behind it is not overly clogged with dirt, boulders and vegetation. When dams that are see significant rainfall, as all of California is experiencing this rainy winter, they are even more likely to blow.

One point anti-dam environmentalists are unfailingly correct about, feel as you may about reservoirsí ecological benefits or problems, is that the best of them are potentially explosive time bombs for the people below them if there is structural failure. When the water is loaded with solids, watch out.

Given the Oroville situation, and the storms we will have again this wet weekend, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is absolutely correct in its mandate to the Public Works Department this week to come back with a report on dam safety throughout the county within 30 days.

The Northern California dam was built in the late 1960s, and is already in need of significant repairs. Most of the flood-control dams built in our region were built after huge floods in the early part of the last century threatened the rapidly growing megalopolis. Devilís Gate Dam in the Arroyo Seco where Altadena, La Canada Flintridge and Pasadena meet was built in 1920, and is the countyís oldest.

Over recent decades, and especially since the area behind the dam has been created as a beautiful wilderness area now known as Hahamongna Watershed Park, significant debris has built up behind it. Thatís a problem. But so is the countyís proposed response. After years of neglect, the county has proposed a years-long over-reaction that opponents properly dub the Big Dig.

We believe work must be done to alleviate the problem, but have joined the city of Pasadena, the Arroyo Seco Foundation and Pasadena Audubon in opposing the scale and scope of the proposed response, which would see hundreds of dump trucks a day rolling through surrounding neighborhoods for five years. We agree with a group formed by the Pasadena City Council that proposes a smaller-scale yet effective proposal to remove debris.

Now a judge has agreed with us,blocking the county plan. Itís time for the county to ditch its scheme and adopt the alternative plan and then take swift action to protect the dam, the people and wildlife as well.




Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326