Temporary barrier to keep L.A. River from overflowing in Atwater Village area


Red line shows where protective barrier will be installed

ATWATER VILLAGE — Temporary barriers designed to raise the height of the L.A. River channel and keep water from overflowing during El Niño storms will be installed along a three-mile stretch of the river that flows past Atwater Village, Griffith Park  and Silver Lake, city and federal officials announced today.

The four-foot-high barriers will be part of more than $3 million in emergency measures that will be undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on an area of the river from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley.   The called HESCO barriers, which are large, wire mesh and fabric containers that can be filled with sand, gravel or dirt, will temporarily increase the capacity of the L.A. River channel during heavy rains. The Army Corps “determined this area needed increased capacity to keep the river in its banks,”  according to a statement issued by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Army Corps.

The installation of barriers, which may require the closure of the L.A. River bike and pedestrian path, will take several weeks to be completed and will remain in place through the spring, according to officials. In addition,  vegetation on the riverbed near Riverside Drive and the Zoo Bridge will be removed to help improve the water flow.

“The unpredictable rainy season in the Los Angeles area requires us to take special preventive measures for those who live in neighborhoods along the L.A. River,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, whose 13th District included Atwater Village and Elysian Valley.

In an email newsletter, O’Farrell  said  that some sections of the LA River pathway will be closed “on an as needed basis through mid-April ” but should reopen before the river is reopened for recreational uses in in May.

The emergency funding announced today”should provide the interim flood risk reduction needed,” said Army Corps district commander Col. Kirk Gibbs in a statement. “Residents will start seeing an increase in activity in and around the channels starting the week of January 11th.”

The Army Corps, however, have not received an additional $4.5 million from the federal government to perform other flood control work on the L.A. River, according to the L.A. Times.


HESCO barriers used in North Dakota | City of LA

HESCO barriers used in North Dakota | City of LA

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  1. talk about waiting until the last minute……………

  2. James Patrick Kelly

    I will be sorry to see the vegetation go!

  3. Oh, all of a sudden they need to do this without any public input?

  4. Ho Ho Ho so WHY did we need the concreting over the riverbed if we were going to need additional protective barriers as well!!??!

    • If you look at the LA river along this area, if the water does overflow, once the water recedes, the water that overflows does not run back into the river, the banks are higher than the surrounding areas. So this kind of makes sense.

    • Why? Because of what I have said in these threads for years. Allowing the vegetation that has grown in the riverbed and the islands that have developed slows the water, creating more accumulation and deeper water. Thus, because of the vegetation, we are now worried that even just a typical El Nino storm could flood the Atwater area, and maybe the entire flood basin.

      That is what that entire area is, a flood basin. It was allowed to be developed on the basis that the flood control channel of the LA River could handle up to a hundred-year storm, a storm so heavy and ferocious it happens only once in a century. That storm is going to happen, it is only a question of when. But that engineering has now been undermined, and so even a simple and common El Nino year is a danger to flooding the entire area.

      I like it with growth in the riverbed. But I think it is insanely dangerous — and I cannot support obviously endangering the property and people; throughout that flood basin for that growth — I know I sure would not want to live or own property there if the flood control is undermined. Spruce up the top of the riverbank, sure, yes, absolutely, great idea., But if you are going to have people living in a flood basin, you better not undermine the flood control, as we have done.

      Any time I have warned of this in the past few years, people just shout me down and say the Corp of Engineers says there will be no problem (I doubt that is quite what they said — they obviously can’t say that and be doing this). And now the proof comes, as the Corp of Engineers is worried a simple El Nino year could cause the river to overflow and flood the area.

      And what do you think will happen when the hundred-year storm hits? And it won’t necessarily come in an El Nino year, so this year is not necessarily more dangerous for a hundred-year storm.

      And now, this intervention will undermine the top of the river. Just look at how ugly and intrusive that is! Are we going to spend hundreds of millions sprucing up the top — only to have this put over it every winter, because we stupidly let islands and growth undermine the flood control and endanger the people living in the flood basin?! Unfortunately, it is clear the answer to that question is yes, to hell with the people living there.

  5. These barriers need to be installed because of the idiocy of returning this river to nature. They didn’t line the river with concrete because they were arseholes . They did it for flood control. Now that there is all this crap in the riverbed ,this is the only measure that has a hope of preventing that whole area east of the river from turning into an estuary.

    • wrong! the reason parts of the river weren’t lined with concrete had nothing to do with people being “arseholes”.

      according to the ladwp website.

      “Only three portions of the channel bottom remain unpaved: through the Sepulveda Flood Control Basin in the San Fernando Valley, near Griffith Park through Elysian Valley WHERE GROUND WATER LEVELS PREVENT IT FROM BEING PAVED, and at the River estuary in Long Beach where the River empties into the Pacific Ocean”.

      the reason the army corps felt the need to pave the river in the first place was because people misused the natural water system and over developed the region thus screwing it all up.
      again according to the ladwp:
      “Before channelization of the River, flood control projects and utilization of the River as a source of water changed the system of streams, wetlands, and swamps of the natural lands.

  6. I can recall running into an old-timer at the barber shop who lived on Dallas street as a kid in the 30s. He told me how his family’s home was washed away during a huge storm and before the river was paved. He also told me that the concrete steps to his family’s home were still there, which they were a few years ago when I checked.

  7. Anyone who advocates for more bike paths along river banks and in river beds who thinks this solves mobility issues can go for a short ride into a flood bank this month.

    • The riverside bike path, at least in that area, is pretty much a joke as far as actual bike transportation anyway. It gets promoted as bike infrastructure to the people asking for that, and simultaneously as a riverside “park” to the rest of the community. The result is something that doesn’t work well as either one, unfortunately.

    • The bike Riverside bike path is primarily recreational with transportation potential. After all, it directly intersects with all the major boulevards and highways in the area. I’ve been able to tag on quick errands along Los Feliz, Glendale, and Fig while riding that path but it is primarily recreational with practical value, which is what the communiity wanted.

  8. Btw, the river doesn’t come close to overflowing but once every 25-35 years and the valley itself has never once flooded since it was paved. These barriers are merely pre-cautionary. Otherwise, much ado about nothing.

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