In a blog post Jan. 21, 2009, Stephanie Pincetl, Director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment, Urban Center for People and the Environment, discusses current efforts to “restore” the Los Angeles River. Dr. Pincetl asks whether plan for the river constitute a restoration or a reinvention. From the post:
“In the early 1980s, Louis McAdams, a performance artist, had a vision that the Los Angeles River could be restored and returned to life, extricated from its concrete confines, and allowed to flow naturally. This vision, at first ridiculed and trivialized, has become the city’s own. Plans are a-foot to create parks along its long trajectory from the San Fernando Valley to the sea, to build new river-oriented housing and commercial developments along the river, and to remove the concrete lining where feasible, balancing public safety from flooding, cost and ecological considerations.
“But is this restoration or the(re) invention of the Los Angeles River? The river’s flow today is tertiary treated sewage from the Tillman Sewage Treatment Plant and dry weather run-off from urban irrigation. Most of the River’s own indigenous flow is captured by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the city’s drinking water supply and kept in underground aquifers. Only when it rains does the river have true flow, and since the river is channelized to prevent flooding, most of the rainflow is directed to the sea.”