Los Angeles River banks to be raised for El Nino

January 8, 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin work next week to temporarily raise the banks along nearly three miles of the Los Angeles River to improve flood protection during El Nino storms, officials announced Friday, just days after the watercourse roared to life during heavy rains.

Temporary barriers to be put in place with $3.1 million in emergency federal funding will increase the river's capacity north of downtown in a stretch that spans the east side of Griffith Park to Elysian Valley paralleling Interstate 5.

The barriers are something like giant sandbags—fabric containers with a wire mesh structure that are filled with earth. Lt. Col. Kirk Gibbs, Los Angeles district commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, said the barriers would arrive in the city on Saturday.

About $500,000 in additional funding will be used for work farther upstream to remove vegetation that impedes the flow of water.

The Los Angeles River runs 51 miles from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach Harbor.

Lined in concrete except for areas with sandy bottoms that allow vegetation to grow, the urban river usually has just a trickle of water and is often the target of ridicule. The renowned architect Frank Gehry is working on a master plan to restore large sections to a natural condition with connections to parks and other public areas.

But it serves a major flood-control function when rain falls on its 870-square-mile watershed. Disastrous floods with millions of dollars in damage and many deaths in the early 20th century led to the decision to channelize it.

"Our river is unique—most of the year it runs nearly dry, and then during the rainy season it runs in powerful torrents as we've seen this week," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

The funding came about rapidly. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors requested the funds in a letter sent Tuesday to Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles district of the Corps declared an emergency to its headquarters and the funding was granted, the mayor's office said.

The Los Angeles City Council will have to approve a motion allowing entry to the river levees but work is expected to begin next week. The work may close some of the river's bike and pedestrian paths.

Explore further: As rain pummels California, some see a way to fight drought

Related Stories

California braces for series of El Nino storms

January 4, 2016

After all the talk, El Nino storms have finally lined up over the Pacific and started soaking drought-parched California with rain expected to last for most of the next two weeks, forecasters said Monday.

Los Angeles fetes 100 years of aqueduct

November 6, 2013

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti Tuesday joined descendants of the engineers who brought water to the then-sleepy Californian town, marking the 100th anniversary of the transformative project.

Recommended for you

2020 deadline to avert climate catastrophe: experts

June 28, 2017

Humanity must put carbon dioxide emissions on a downward slope by 2020 to have a realistic shot at capping global warming at well under two degrees Celsius, the bedrock goal of the Paris climate accord, experts said Wednesday.

Concurrent hot and dry summers more common in future: study

June 28, 2017

A combination of severe drought and a heatwave caused problems for Russia in the summer of 2010: fires tore through forests and peat bogs. Moscow was shrouded in thick smog, causing many deaths in the local population. At ...

Climate change impacts Antarctic biodiversity habitat

June 28, 2017

Ice-free areas of Antarctica - home to more than 99 per cent of the continent's terrestrial plants and animals - could expand by more than 17,000km2 by the end of this century, a study published today in Nature reveals.

The common insecticide poisoning our rivers and wetlands

June 28, 2017

Urban streams and wetlands play an important role in the proper functioning of our cities. They protect our houses from floods, provide green spaces for recreation, trap and breakdown pollutants and provide valuable habitats ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.