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UPDATE: County OK’s emergency status for Bouquet Canyon residents

Many families and others are completely without water after DWP reduces dam release to trickle

Posted: February 25, 2014 12:11 p.m.
Updated: February 25, 2014 5:48 p.m.

County supervisors declared a state of local emergency Tuesday for the residents of Bouquet Canyon, paving the way for a speedy cleanup of the sediment-filled Bouquet Creek bed and the release of much-needed water from Bouquet Reservoir.

With no objections, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors OK’d a recommendation submitted by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proclaiming a state of local emergency, allowing agencies to bypass costly permits needed to clean up the creek bed.

Almost a dozen people — many of them Bouquet Canyon residents — traveled to downtown Los Angeles to tell supervisors the water shortage had dried up their wells, inconvenienced their families and compromised fire safety.

“We need you to vote in favor of this,” said resident Chase Unruh.

Normally, downstream recipients of Bouquet Canyon enjoy five times the amount of water currently being released from the reservoir, according to Jim Yannotta, Los Angeles Aqueduct Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power,

Before more water is released, however, three big Los Angeles County culverts that are cluttered with sediment and debris have to be cleaned out.

Heavy rains that followed a multi-year drought ending in 2002 dumped so much sediment into the creek that the “creek bed is higher than the (Bouquet Canyon) Road,” creating the risk of flooding, Yannotta told The Signal in an earlier interview.

On Tuesday, Yannotta told supervisors that releasing more water from the reservoir before the creek bed is cleaned up could cause flooding and create a “safety hazard” for motorists and cyclists on Bouquet Canyon Road.

Bouquet Canyon resident Roger Haring told the board: “We need the water for fire protection.”

Kathleen Sturkey, executive director of LARC Ranch, speaking on behalf of 103 ranch residents, reminded supervisors that water stored in a tank at the ranch helped save lives and homes in the Buckweed Fire of 2007.

“This water is of vital importance to us,” she told the board Tuesday.

Besides the sediment buildup that’s sending creek water across Bouquet Canyon Road, a spokesman for Antonovich’s office said, vegetation growth in the creek has reduced its flood-carrying capacity such that the road is inundated during storms, creating a public safety hazard.

“Today’s action will allow the county to work with state and federal agencies to help resolve the crisis in Bouquet Canyon and restore the flood-carrying capacity of Bouquet Canyon Creek,” Antonovich said in a written statement issued after Tuesday’s hearing.

A copy of the proclamation will be forwarded to the director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt





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