LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles District used a virtual community outreach forum Dec. 14 for public stakeholders to participate in the 2023 Los Angeles River Flood Awareness Workshop.
The workshop was an overview of 25 of the 51 miles of the LA River the LA District manages.
Corps professionals presented a range of functions that directly and indirectly tie into flood-risk management, including operations and maintenance, emergency management, natural resources management, dam and levee safety, hydrology and hydraulics, and the Park Ranger program.
About 40 participants virtually attended. The workshop was organized and hosted by LA District project manager Melanie Ellis.
“Through the Los Angeles Flood-Risk Awareness Workshop, we were able to share updates on projects directly to the residents and communities we are providing flood-risk management benefits to,” Ellis said. “More importantly, this workshop gives us an opportunity to hear directly from the residents and communities. The real-time interactions through presentations, question-and-answer sessions and open discussion provides us an opportunity to share the Corps’ story and intent, and it allows us to build relationships.”
Operations along the LA River corridor require close cooperation among multiple city, county, state, federal and tribal partners. After a welcome by LA District deputy commander Lt. Col. Stephen Brooks, the workshop began with a presentation by Sgt. Matt Coppes, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Services Team, or HOST.
Coppes explained the program and shared success stories of the formerly unhoused. He noted the importance of the partnership between the department and the Corps addressing homeless encampments in riverbeds.
“HOST has been working to provide relocation services to those who have fallen on hard times,” Ellis said. “The HOST team and Trevor Snyder, Los Angeles District project manager and homeless encampment liaison, have worked together to provide assistance to those in need.”
District experts followed with details about the Corps’ LA River programs and projects. A historical overview of the river by engineer Jon Sweeten demonstrated how past flooding led to the current channel system. Vintage photos, antique-to-modern maps and news clips helped visually tell the story of the river.
Participants asked questions live or posted them to the chat to be answered immediately or with a follow-up.
The LA River flows through seven different congressional districts, 10 city council districts, 20 neighborhood councils and 12 community-planned areas. The district’s area of responsibility includes five flood-risk management dams, 45 miles of noncontiguous channels and levees, and one debris basin, 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.
“The areas in and around our projects are densely populated,” Ellis said. “The interest in the projects and the willingness of the residents to participate and help share that information is really encouraging for our team.”