The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

A Drop in the Bucket

Subtitle:

Rainy days are beautiful, but they also can remind us of our ecological problems.

Date:

2010-12-21

Author:

Karin Bugge - Altadena Hiker

Publication:

Altadena Blog

Content:

Devil's Gate Dam holds back the storm.

When rain hits our parched foothills, it's beautiful. And we're getting a whole lot of beautiful this week. By Monday, I was wading through 12 inches of beautiful, setting up ad-hoc berms with sand bags, plastic, bricks.

Some Altadena streets, mine for instance, have no curbs or gutters. Still, most of our houses have been around for at least 90 years, and if they didn't float away during the Roaring Twenties or the Great Depression, chances are they're not going anywhere this year either. I suspect, though, many of our structures survived in the early years because the roads weren't paved; rain could sink into the ground, and as an added benefit, replenish the water table.

These days, we lose most of the rainwater that comes our way. It leaves the hills for a long, mean journey to the Pacific Ocean, meeting up with all sorts of questionable company along the way motor oil, fertilizer, pesticides, and tennis shoes. In its current configuration, the LA River is a marvel of engineering and infrastructure that turns pure water into something polluted and deadly.

At our own homes, we can rig up something to capture rainwater, at least, keep a few gallons from the gutters (if you've got them) or the street (if you don't.) And I've got some rain barrels, by the way. But in the grand scheme of things, my saving a few barrels of water strikes me as, well, ineffectual. Like thinking I've made an ecological statement by cutting a minute off my shower time or taking a canvas bag to Trader Joe's.

I wonder whether little things make a difference or just divert our attention, keep us from making a difference of true significance.

When it comes to capturing rainwater in measurable amounts, there are many viable, but barely tested, ideas. Among them are permeable roads, sidewalks, pavement, to something called swales landscaping that directs and captures water in personal landscapes, but on a community-wide scale. All this takes commitment, common cause, and, of course, money.

Which takes us back to Hahamongna -- our friend through fair weather and foul, one who needs no handout, just a hands-off. It's a natural watershed, a soft-bottomed bowl of gravel and sand, part of (I think) the Raymond Basin that stretches all the way to Henry Huntington's library. Water sinks through the soil and is captured for use on our many, many un-rainy days.

I wonder what it would take to get the City of Pasadena to abandon its ridiculous plan for paving or otherwise "improving" the watershed with athletic fields (one for now, but absolutely no guarantee it will stay at one) and parking lots and nature center. Neither common sense nor public opinion seems to have had any impact.

The Pasadena City Council cited their growing population's ever increasing need for a good soccer game. I'm no city planner, but I'd be more concerned with the growing population's ever-increasing thirst.

I remember hearing last year that the city of Pasadena was encouraging neighbor to "report" neighbors if they watered on the wrong days or had leaky sprinklers or something. I found the idea particularly creepy. However, if the city next door goes ahead with the "master plan" for Hahamongna, I can see how ratting out a neighbor would give me a certain amount of satisfaction.