Monday, December 7, 2009

arroyo negro

DEVIL'S GATE - The Arroyo Seco was running black today.

From the top of Devil's Gate Dam, dark mud and water ran south out of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Station Fire burned areas, through the dam works to eventually meet the Los Angeles River.

Barbara Ellis, 60, was walking her Australian shepherd Abby, and she described what she saw after a downpour today as a tragedy. From the crest of Devil's Gate she looked down at the blackness moving towards the dam.

"I was watching the little cliffs of mud and ash collapsing with a splash, and thinking of the movie '2012,' " Ellis said. "It's a film about the end of the world. I'm afraid this looks a little like the end of the world, in miniature."

Ellis said she could smell an "acrid, smokey smell, straight from the fire" coming off the water and mud running through the Devil's Gate works to emerge in a jet stream headed south.

"The Arroyo Seco's been my favorite place to walk since I came here 10 years ago," Ellis said. "This Station Fire is a major tragedy. It's destroyed habitat that will take 70 years to recover in some cases.

"Now we see the mud and ash coming down and choking off the existing life down here," she said. "It's backed up Flintridge Creek, the drainage that comes off the Verdugo Hills."

Los Angeles County public works officials spent several days in November cleaning out floating debris that washed into the reservoir, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Layers of black ash and mud were still visible today, possibly from the unexpected storm in mid-November that unleashed debris flows above Ocean View Boulevard in La CaƱada-Flintridge, Ellis said.

"All this blackness didn't come down here today," Ellis said. "You can see layers of it collapsing into the runoff now. It's like oil in a way. Such a shame."

A video of the runoff emerging from Devil's Gate is posted here. More photos are posted here.


1 comment:

Ruby Jackson said...

The soil that is in the arroyo and making its way to the LA River and eventually the ocean is not a bad thing. It's what replenishes our beaches. The bad thing is the interference with the natural flow of runoff, ground percolation, and shore replenishment the Army Corps of Engineers has done by lining our entire river with concrete. This inhibits the buildup of our shoreline at the mouth of the River as well as prevents the replenishment of ground water.