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June 10, 2011

To Greenies, Man Has Done Nothing Worthwhile. [ArthurK]

Background first.

John McPhee's book,"The Control of Nature", looks at the struggle against the destructive side of Nature. He examines at 3 episodes. The Army Corps of Engineers against the Lower Mississippi, the town of Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland vs. a friggin' Volcano and a 3rd that you may have seen but not noticed. LA vs. two kinds of floods.

Once upon a time, Los Angeles was routinely flooded. In the 1920s and 30s, the lower parts of town were submerged after heavy rain. You never hear about that happening now - we fixed it.

A truly ginourmous flood control project solved that problem. You know those jokes about the LA River and how it's paved? Yup, that was part of it. It's not pretty* but it worked!

* I'm fond of it but I've grown up with it. I think rivers should flow in concrete valleys! [g]

But there's a 2nd kind of flood problem in the LA area. Massive debris flows in the hilly areas. The hills around LA aren't your typical hills. They're crumbly. Real crumbly. The climb up 30 inches and slide down 20 kind of crumbly. When you get heavy rain truly phenomenal amounts of debris goes on the move.

McPhee's book goes into some detail on the massive and successful projects needed to control those debris flows and the maintenance required on them.

And now we come to my rant.

The maintenance part vs. the greenies.

On the northernmost edge of Pasadena lies Devil's Gate Dam, a massive concrete barrier designed to be the last line of defense during massive storms. But now, that dam basin is full of mud with little room for floodwater.

Under a worst-case scenario, torrential rains could send mud, rocks and water over the dam and flooding into the Rose Bowl, South Pasadena and northeast Los Angeles in less than 40 minutes.

Devil's Gate is one of those debris basins we use to catch massive debris flows. It works. It works great and has worked great since it was built in 1920. But you have to maintain it. That's simple. Just send some trucks and bulldozers around and cart off the debris before the basin fills up. We've done this since it was built. Until the greenies interfered.

You see, there was an extended dry spell* when the basin wasn't full enough to be worth emptying and during that period some vegetation sprouted. Willows and stuff. You guessed it. The greenies are blocking the debris clearing because the willows (or large, woody weeds as I call them) are more important than thousands of houses and lives in Pasadena.

*that same drought allowed a long skinny forest to take root in center of the LA river. It looks pretty. I worry about it blocking the flow but there have been some large rains and there hasn't been a problem yet.

Public Works officials laid out the warning in dire terms in a subsequent report to the supervisors submitted several weeks ago.

"This sudden sediment has reduced the reservoir's volume, and it no longer has the capacity to safely contain another major debris event," said a report submitted by Gail Farber, who heads the department. "There is risk of significant flooding and debris flow below the dam."

As a result, many areas near the Arroyo Seco, including homes, horse stables and the 110 Freeway in northeast Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena are at risk of flooding, the agency said. A dam failure could cause flooding at the Rose Bowl in less than 10 minutes.

(I'll skip some quotes from those who enjoy the willowy nature of the dam.)

They also complain that 300-400 trucks a day carrying away debris would be noisy. You know what else is noisy? A few megatons of rocks and mud rumbling down the street after the next flash flood!

This pisses me off. The various flood control systems in the LA area are a freakin' marvel of 20th century engineering and these Gaia worshipping hippies would rather the residents DIE than do the routine fix that's been done for almost a century.

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