The Devil’s Gate Dam and Reservoir Restoration Project was completed way ahead of its 2022 deadline. Community stakeholders in the area, especially homeowners zoned to the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD), have lauded the speedy conclusion of the project.
Initially expected to run for four years after starting in October, 2018, the restoration project aimed to improve the reservoir’s flood mitigation capacity and rehabilitate the area’s natural habitats.
According to the Los Angeles County Public Works, the removal of 1.7 million cubic feet of sediment was completed on August 10, 2021. Finishing touches will continue well into November, but it will be significantly less disruptive than the work done in years past. Meanwhile, habitat restoration will still be an ongoing effort.
What does early completion mean for schools and surrounding communities?
- No more traffic bottlenecks. At one point during the project, approximately 400 truck trips were made every day from Monday to Friday. This often caused traffic congestion in roads like Berkshire Place, Oak Grove Drive, and Foothill Boulevard. These routes also passed through schools like La Cañada High School, Hillside School, and Crestview Preparatory. With the project’s completion, families and students should expect to see faster moving traffic, reduced pedestrian risk, and decreased noise levels.
- Improved air quality. Many residents frequently raised concerns about dust and other particulates being inhaled by people near the project site. The excavation and transportation of sediments and other natural deposits near the dam was the main source of this air hazard. LCUSD and city officials have been closely working together since the project’s inception to continuously monitor air quality. With its completion more than a year in advance, this should no longer be a concern.
- Reduced flooding risk for downstream communities. Before the project began in 2018, the Devil’s Gate Dam and Reservoir had been accumulating 10+ years’ worth of sediment and debris. Downstream communities were at risk of severe flooding had the dam’s issues were left unresolved. Overall, the successful project will enhance the Arroyo Seco flood control system, which is now better prepared to withstand future storm surges.
- Improved habitat for local flora and fauna. The project has also restored about 70 acres of wildlife habitat and native vegetation. Invasive plant species are continuously being removed and endangered species have been gradually returning to their newly restored habitat. Ecologists will continue monitoring and conducting preservation efforts in the natural area around Devil’s Gate to ensure proper environmental stewardship.
The dam and reservoir restoration project had fraught beginnings. During the planning stages, environmentalist groups and community stakeholders tried to block the project from materializing. The LCUSD, in particular, was highly concerned about the disruption to student activities stemming from the hundreds of trucks and travelling to and from the project site. Eventually, all sides set aside their arguments after reaching a compromise.
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With all that said, there’s never been a better time to move to La Cañada Flintridge! Have you had the chance to explore the beautiful neighborhoods and top schools in the city? If not, don’t hesitate to book a real estate consultation with me, Kathy Seuylemezian, to find out more.