“The complex, unique geology of the Los Angeles Basin, with its interlocking and overlapping ridges and valleys, resulted in a wildly unpredictable river that often sent torrents of water tearing over its banks.
Not long after California became a state in 1851, the water needs of a booming population stressed the Los Angeles River to its breaking point. Meanwhile, the fitful river endangered the settlements multiplying throughout the floodplain. After catastrophic floods in 1914, 1934, and 1938, the city, at the recommendation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, agreed to straighten the riverbed and pave it with concrete, deracinating whatever plant and animal wildlife was left. A complex of aqueducts, dams, and reservoirs was built to import most of the city’s water; today, it delivers about 430 million gallons daily.”
Restoration of this watershed is a priority to many who live in and around LA.
The UCLA study highlights the inadequacies of decades-old infrastructure in the Golden State that were “designed for theclimate of the past and not for the rapidly changing climate of the future,” Climate Signals notes.
“Ourbig dams were designedto capture smaller floods than what we expect in the future,” said Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist and lead author of an earlier study on California’sclimate-related weather extremes. “We can make some changes on the margins, but these structures were built for a climate that we no longer have.”