Devil's Gate Dam

Crews removed about 5,000 cubic yards of dirt from the base of Devil's Gate Dam at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works released a draft environmental impact report in October 2013 that outlined five possible options for removing large amounts of sediment that built up in the basin after the 2009 Station fire and the storms that followed. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / September 18, 2013)

Several La Cañada Flintridge residents have concerns that a project to remove debris and mud above Devil’s Gate Dam could be environmentally destructive and affect the health of a neighborhood that includes several schools.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works released a draft environmental impact report in October that outlined five possible options for removing large amounts of sediment that built up in the basin after the 2009 Station fire and the storms that followed.

Keith Lilley, a principal engineer for the county, reviewed the project with the La Cañada Flintridge City Council during a study session in the Council Chambers on Monday night.

The alternatives would remove between 2.4 and 4 million cubic yards of sediment. Officials have maintained that the removal of debris and mud may be necessary to contain damage from a future storm. The region around the Arroyo Seco, including Pasadena, South Pasadena, and the 110 Freeway, are areas that are most at risk for flooding, officials have said.

The current estimate for the sediment removal project is $65 million. Construction for the proposed project would not begin until 2015. The removal process would occur over the course of five years.

Linda Klibanow, a La Cañada attorney, was one of several locals to speak against the proposed alternatives on Monday.

Klibanow lives near Hahamongna Watershed Park and urged council members to examine the impacts on air quality and traffic from removing large amounts of sediment on trucks.

“Once this gets started, it will be too late,” she said.

Other speakers also expressed concern about pollution and the affects of the sediment removal on existing wildlife and habitats. Some questioned the necessity of such an expansive project.

“I think everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done in regards to sediment management,” said Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation. “But we need a slow program. It doesn’t need to be done in three to five years. There is not that kind of an emergency.”

The pollution from the project and the trucks driving back and forth to the park would be “devastating,” he added.

The county report states that the removal of a large amount of sediment could involve up to 425 truck trips on excavation days.

The goal for the project is to remove dirt that has gathered in the 93-year-old water control system over the last decade, said Lilley. Alternative 3, which would remove the least amount of dirt, is the “environmentally superior” option, he added.

County work crews have removed small amounts of sediment from the base of the dam in recent years. A cleanup effort in September removed 5,000 cubic yards.

La Cañada plans to submit a letter to the county regarding the draft report. Council members are slated to discuss their position on the project at the next council meeting on Monday, Dec. 16.

Comments on the draft report may be submitted until Jan. 6 via email to reservoircleanouts@dpw.lacounty.gov or mailed to County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Attn: Water Resources Division, Reservoir Cleanouts, P.O. Box 1460 Alhambra, CA 91802-9974, or by fax to (626) 979-5436. The comments should include “Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal and Management Project” in the subject line of the letter, and a name of a contact person.

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Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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