LOS ANGELES--Newly appointed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy stood with Corps officials atop an overlook in Elysian Park at the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and Los Angeles River Nov. 21 to see first hand plans for the river's restoration. The EPA chief said she was pleased to visit Los Angeles and view the work that's been done to connect the community to the natural world.
"It's building new partnerships with the Army Corps to look beyond these small parks and how we connect our communities to the river itself and how we restore that," said McCarthy. "It's an exciting moment."
McCarthy's day-long visit to Los Angeles included a tour of the Port of Long Beach and a nearby recycling facility. But the opportunity to kayak a portion of the LA River was scuttled due to rain. Instead, the head of the EPA took a walking tour along a bike path adjacent to the Glendale Narrows reach of the river with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Corps' South Pacific Division Regional Business Director Traci Clever and City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell.
In her remarks, McCarthy praised the partnership and vision of the team working on the ecosystem restoration plan.
"We have found that green infrastructure has tremendous value; for flood management, for water quality, for reconnecting people to natural resources and for building cities that people want to live in," she said. "The challenges we face need planning; green infrastructure, like this, is part of the solution."
The iconic river has gained national attention since EPA announced its declaration of the river as a Traditional Navigable Waterway. The Corps released the draft LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study for public review and comment Sept. 13, and received more than 500 comments as of the period’s close Nov. 18. Corps officials said they are reviewing the comments and plan to release a final report next spring.
When asked why he is advocating Alternative 20, while the Corps' tentatively selected plan is the less costly Alternative 13, Garcetti said the river team is lined up with more in common than in difference.
"It's a wonderful place to be to where we're all discussing how much money, not whether to invest in this project," said Garcetti. "The city and the state have already made huge commitments and spent that money to revitalize the river."
Clever said Corps officials are reviewing agency and public comments. She said the Corps will work with the city to prepare a final report to be released next spring.
"Without the support of the city, in partnership with the Corps of Engineers and so many more organizations that work in the LA River basin, none of this would be possible," Clever said. "I'm proud the administrator is here and able to witness the strong partnership that we have here and where we're going forward to advance restoration of this important resource and move ourselves towards a congressionally authorized project and realizing some of the benefits."