LOS ANGELES – Professionals with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District representing a variety of technical disciplines lent their time and expertise to public stakeholders Dec. 3 during the 2020 Los Angeles River Flood Awareness Workshop.
“This was a grand overview of the operations that the LA District has within the LA River corridor,” said Trevor Snyder, LA River project manager with the district’s Operations Division, which manages 25 of the 51 miles of the LA River.
LA District’s area of responsibility includes five flood risk-management dams, 45 miles of noncontiguous channels and levees, and one debris basin. This is all part of the LA County Drainage Area project, which includes more than 500 miles of channels and a total of 20 debris basins, in addition to the five Corps’ dams.
For the workshop, Snyder brought in LA District experts who manage a range of functions that directly and indirectly tie into flood-risk management, including those experienced in operations and maintenance, emergency management, natural resources management, dam and levee safety, hydrology and hydraulics, and the Ranger Outreach program.
The primary audience for the workshop was individuals and groups most impacted by the LA River and its operations, Snyder said, however, the workshop was open to the public.
“I hope our workshop helped everyone realize we’re being open and transparent about all of our operations within the LA River,” Snyder said. “A lot of people from the public have reached out to the Corps and said, ‘We would love to hear more about what you’re doing.’
“We wanted to have an opportunity to detail in a public, open forum, the great work that we’re trying to accomplish in the river.”
Workshop invitees included community groups like the LA River Cooperation Committee, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Urban Waters Federal Partnership, LA County Department of Public Works and various neighborhood councils – many of which attended and participated. Representatives from the offices of Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jimmy Gomez also attended, as well as from Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s office.
Smooth operations along the LA River corridor require close cooperation among multiple city, county, state, federal and tribal partners. The river transects seven different congressional districts, 10 city council districts, 20 neighborhood councils and 12 community-plan areas.
“The amount of community outreach, coordination and collaboration with the different agencies, which are all stakeholders in the LA River, is very important but also very complex,” Snyder said.
And just like any organization, the LA District has finite resources and funding with which to work.
“As stewards of the U.S. government’s resources, we have to be very cognizant of the actions we take and the strategic planning to accomplish our goals – the first of which is flood-risk management and flood fighting,” Snyder said.
Hot topics included flood mapping, homeless encampments, river access, non-native vegetation removal, and operations and maintenance scheduling.
“I hope attendees took away that the central focus in regard to the LA River is public safety and that their concerns and feedback are important to us,” said Lauren Coe, an LA District civil engineer who specializes in hydrology and who served as a subject matter expert during the workshop. “I really appreciate the interest and participation in these forums by such a well-informed group of public stakeholders.”
Meeting notes are slated to be published at a later date. Those who missed the workshop still can send questions and feedback to LARfloodworkshop2020@usace.army.mil.