LOS ANGELES – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kirk Gibbs joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis Jan. 8 to announce that the Corps will begin interim risk reduction measures to improve flood protection on the Los Angeles River during El Niño. The District received emergency funding to begin work next week on an area of the river that spans from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley.
The District determined this area needed increased capacity to keep the river in its banks. Gibbs declared an emergency for the District Jan. 6, prompting the Corps to provide $3.1 million in emergency funding and nearly 3 miles of temporary protective barriers. These barriers effectively raise the sides of the river channel in strategic locations, temporarily increasing its capacity for the winter storm rains.
"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," said Garcetti. "My top priority during El Niño is to ensure the safety of everyone in our city, and I thank the Army Corps of Engineers for taking action now to enhance the river's flood management functions."
Additionally, the District received approximately $500,000 in operations and maintenance funding to begin strategic in-channel vegetation removal from the highest-risk area, in the vicinity of Riverside Drive and Victory Boulevard Bridge. Vegetation there impedes water flow.
"The flood fighting has just begun for this winter," said Gibbs. "In addition to the work we are currently undertaking, the protective barriers will reduce flood risk with minimal impacts to the public and our river partners. Residents will start seeing an increase in activity in and around the channels starting the week of Jan. 11."
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sent a letter Jan. 5 to Congress and USACE requesting the additional funds.
"Not only will the work by the Army Corps of Engineers allow the Los Angeles River to better manage the larger volumes of storm flows expected from future El Niño rains this season, it will also provide residents from the cities of Los Angeles and Glendale the protection they deserve from flooding," said LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
"The unpredictable rainy season in the Los Angeles area requires us to take special preventive measures for those who live in neighborhoods along the LA River," said LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the city’s Arts, Parks, and LA River Committee. "I want to thank the USACE, the county, and our own city departments for their work to improve public safety during this El Niño weather event."
Construction teams will place the barriers along the edges of the river which may require closing some sections of the LA River bike and pedestrian path. The work is anticipated to take several weeks, with the barriers expected to remain in place through the spring.
"Given the potential danger that the current El Niño storms pose to the City, it’s essential that we increase safeguard measures that protect our neighborhoods, especially those along flood zone areas," said LA City Councilmember David Ryu.
Accelerated maintenance activities, such as additional non-native vegetation removal and structural repairs, are anticipated to continue throughout the storm season to improve conditions in the LA River.
Release no. 16-002