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:

Giant Devil's Gate flood-control project in Pasadena begins environmental process

Subtitle:

Date:

2011-09-28

Author:

Janette Williams

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

PASADENA - In the first step toward a mammoth five-year county flood-control project, due to start in 2014, the public is being asked to weigh in on the environmental implications of dredging millions of cubic yards of sediment from Devil's Gate Dam.



Two public scoping sessions in October for a draft environmental impact report will give neighbors and local environmental groups their first chance to air concerns in what's likely to be a long and contentious process.

Kerjon Lee, a spokesman for the county's public works department, said the project's full scope and design won't be complete until the comments from all those involved - including those living nearby - are in.

"We don't have a volume of debris set" for removal, Lee said Wednesday.

"Factoring in the additional sediment that's expected to come in (to Devil's Gate) within the next two storm seasons, basically 2.4 million cubic yards could be expected in the next two years," he said. "That's plus the 1.7 million cubic yards already existing in the reservoir."

An emergency project completed last month removed 13,000 cubic feet of debris, now spread over Johnson Field in an agreement with Pasadena.

That, plus upgrades completed to the dam operations, should "essentially get us through" this winter's rains without overflow, Lee said.

The county has hired Irvine-based environmental consultants, Chambers Group, Inc., to help the EIR process along, Lee said.

The project in the Hahamongna Watershed Park above Pasadena originally got an emergency California Environmental Quality Act exemption after about 936,000 cubic yards of Station Fire debris washed into Devil's Gate during the 2009-2010 winter storms.

Work on removing 1.6 million cubic yards of sediment was to have started this month, but in March county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, backed by Pasadena City Council, called for an EIR, citing the project's scale and the impact of years of truck traffic hauling debris through neighborhoods in Pasadena and other cities.

Devil's Gate, which was built in the Arroyo Seco in 1920 as the county's first flood control dam, was last cleaned out in 1993; other county sediment-removal projects are in the works for dams at Big Tujunga, Cogswell, Morris and Pacoima.

Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation and a member of the county's working group on sediment management, said he will use the scoping sessions to urge the county to develop a "long-term and sustainable" plan that emphasizes restoring the river and would allow some sediment to come down the flood channel.

"We're encouraging people to come out that have concerns," Brick said. "But we want them to look at the big picture, not just how trucks get in and out of the basin ... I think the county needs to do some big planning, and needs to figure out a new way that's cheaper and more environmentally sustainable."

David Czamanske of Pasadena's Sierra Club said "philosophical differences" are likely to show up between different groups during the draft EIR process.

"There are key issues of water-resource management, wildlife and vegetation - I'm talking trees and native plants and perhaps endangered species," he said.

One likely area of dispute is removing the grove of willows growing on sediment, Czamanske said.

"Everyone can't be satisfied," Czamanske said. "I believe the county has a difficult, serious assignment in addressing this whole issue of sediment, and the method of chucking it out in huge volumes, and all the problems associated with that."

Written comments will be accepted through Nov. 11; the Oct. 5 scoping session is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl Stadium, Visitor's Locker Room; the second is 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 15 in the La Canada High School Cafeteria, 4463 Oak Grove Drive.

Copies of an initial study can be seen at Central, Linda Vista and San Rafael public libraries in Pasadena; the public libraries in Altadena, La Canada Flintridge and Irwindale; and at the county's Department of Public Works, 900 S. Fremont St. in Alhambra.

For more information, visit lasedimentmanagement.com/devilsgate.