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Vote could boost Bouquet water

Recommendation by Supervisor Antonovich would proclaim state of local emergency

Posted: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Many Bouquet Canyon residents hoping to fill their dry wells through an emergency county measure to release much-needed water from the Bouquet reservoir should not expect immediate results, said the official with his hand on the tap.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a recommendation submitted by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proclaiming a state of local emergency that would bypass timely and costly environmental permits needed to clean up the sediment-filled Bouquet creek bed and pave the way for the release of water.

“The release of water is not going to immediately solve the problem,” said Jim Yannotta, Los Angeles Aqueduct Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“The water needs to go into the ground water aquifer,” Yannotta told The Signal last week. “Hopefully, once I can re-allow the appropriate flows, the people downstream will see water sometime soon after that.”

Normally, downstream recipients of water released from Bouquet Canyon enjoy five times the amount of water currently being released from the reservoir, Yannotta explained.

Before more water is released, however, three big cluttered Los Angeles County culverts have to be cleaned out.

Heavy rains that followed a multi-year drought ending in 2002 dumped so much sediment into the creek bed that the “creek bed is higher than the (Bouquet Canyon) road,” creating the risk of flooding.

“It poses a public safety issue,” Yannotta said, referring to the threat of flooding. “I had to reduce the release of water from the reservoir to a minimal amount.”

Normal release from the reservoir allows for five cubic feet of water to be released per second from the reservoir. The release of water was reduced to one cubic foot per second, which some Bouquet Canyon residents have called a “trickle.”

If the county approves the proposed local emergency proclamation Tuesday, then county workers can begin immediately cleaning up the sediment by clearing out three key culverts on land owned by the U.S. Forestry Service.

“If they’re able to declare an emergency then the U.S. Forest Service can issue a permit right away and that categorical exception would allow work to be done,” Yannotta said.

Without such a proclamation, county officials would have to go through the time-consuming process of obtaining stringent environmental permits from the federal government before they can start the cleanup.
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