BACKGROUND  |  WATERSHED MGMT PLAN |  STORM DRAIN DAYLIGHTING  |  EARTHEN BOTTOM ENHANCEMENT |  COMPTON CREEK |  LINKS
   
 
 

BACKGROUND

The Council for Watershed Health’s Lower Los Angeles River Program covers the same portions of the LA River Watershed as the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), excluding the land that drains directly to the River’s major tributary, the Rio Hondo (Rio Hondo Watershed Coordination is provided by a partnership between the RMC and the Council, funded by the California Department of Conservation).


Our project area is 92.3 square miles. The Watershed is highly urbanized; only 3% of the land is open space, parks, agriculture, or vacant. The Lower Los Angeles River Watershed has a variety of land uses: single and multifamily residential, neighborhood and regional commercial centers, transportation (extensive shipping, freeways, rail, and intermodal facilities), and wide swaths of light and heavy industrial facilities. The watershed is park-poor with only 0.7 acres of park per one thousand persons; though they vary, minimum standards for urban park space fall near 4 acres per one thousand persons.


The Lower LA River Watershed includes the cities of:

Los Angeles (portions draining to Compton Creek), Vernon, Commerce, Bell, Maywood, Huntington Park, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, South Gate, Downey, Lynwood, Paramount, Compton, Signal Hill, Carson, and Long Beach.


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works operates the LARIO trail along the bank of the Los Angeles River starting at Atlantic Boulevard in the City of Vernon and continuing downstream for 19 miles to Shoreline Village in Long Beach.


There are few remaining large open space areas. Miraculously, some wetlands habitat still exists in the Lower LA River Watershed:

Compton Creek’s earthen bottom portion,
   
LA River Estuary (downstream of Willow Street in Long Beach),
   
Constructed wetlands exist at the Dominguez Gap Wetlands (on the East bank of the River downstream of the Del Amo Bridge)


Additionally, alga growing in the water sheeting over the flat cement riverbed has been noted to provide valuable shorebird habitat. This is important alternative habitat since most of our region’s historic wetlands have been wiped out by development.


Water quality impairments, as listed on California’s 303(d) list, include aluminum, ammonia, cadmium, copper, coliform bacteria, lead, nutrients (algae), odors, oil, pH, scum/foam, and zinc.


There are thousands of permitted dischargers in the entire Los Angeles River watershed; some of permitted dischargers contribute pollutants to the river, as do illegal dischargers. Nonpoint source pollution from urban land uses is another major source of pollutants in the Los Angeles River.


PLANNING CONTEXT

The Compton Creek sub watershed of the Lower Los Angeles River Watershed has been a hotbed of planning activity in recent years:


The LA Regional Water Quality Control Board funded the Council for Watershed Health to write the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan (published in 2005).
   
The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) funded the City of Compton to produce the Compton Creek Regional Garden Park Master Plan (published and adopted in 2006).
   
The California Coastal Conservancy funded the Council for Watershed Health to develop the Compton Creek Earthen Bottom Enhancement Feasibility Study (draft currently in review).
   
The RMC funded the Council for Watershed Health to develop the Storm Drain Daylighting Feasibility Study (underway).


The Lower Los Angeles River has a Los Angeles River Master Plan, which was initially released in 1996, and has been updated continuously. The process is managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, which holds quarterly coordination meetings. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Watershed Management Division is focusing on 'Gap Areas' which drain to the Los Angeles River, but are not included within any watershed management plan.


The City of LA has developed an extensive plan for revitalizing its portion of the Los Angeles River. The Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan was completed in 2007 and is moving towards implementation.


Downstream of the Los Angeles City Limit, 12 municipalities and additional unincorporated county neighborhoods are located within the Lower LA River Watershed. Coordinating the master plan for these areas has been taken on by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. However, the coming years will hold considerable additional work to coordinate the visions of these 12 municipalities and organize them to seek the funding required for a comprehensive, visionary plan.

COUNCIL FOR WATERSHED HEALTH ROLE

The Council for Watershed Health has been involved with the Compton Creek Watershed since 2003, and we began to expand our program into the remaining portions of the Lower Los Angeles River in 2006. We work to develop, fund, and coordinate projects which support existing plans and develop new plans in the Lower LA River’s 'Gap' Areas. We do this by:


Conducting outreach to public agencies, elected officials, and large land-owners,
   
Updating and maintaining an inventory of watershed projects,
   
Assisting organizations, agencies, and governments in developing new Watershed-related projects, and
   
Seeking funding.
WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PLAN

Through a stakeholder process, the Council for Watershed Health and partners developed a comprehensive Watershed Management Plan for the Compton Creek Watershed. Watershed stakeholders were invited from local, state and federal agencies, community groups, environmental groups, and the general public.


Local residents and community groups were invited to participate in a series of five community meetings and workshops. Community meetings were designed to collect public opinions and concerns about water quality, parks and open space, and wetlands habitat. Community workshops were designed to collect more detailed community input on where water quality projects could be located, and what features they should have.



Technical experts and stakeholder agency representatives joined in a Steering Committee and commented on community input from public workshops. Steering Committee members also helped the Council for Watershed Health develop the plan’s goals, objectives, and strategies during the development of the plan.


The Council for Watershed Health completed and published the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan in June of 2005. This plan includes a description of the Compton Creek Watershed, goals and objectives for the Watershed based on community concerns, watershed project types, a proposed monitoring plan, assignments of stakeholder responsibilities, an inventory of projects and potential funding, and defined watershed management strategies. The Watershed Management Plan is available online and limited numbers of printed hard copies of the plan are still available for $50 (thanks to the generous printing services donated by the City of Los Angeles Watershed Protection Division). Copies of the plan were sent to policymakers and all City and County public libraries within the Compton Creek Watershed. To request an extra copy of the plan, contact: alex@watershedhealth.org.


Funding for the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan was provided in part through a contract with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) pursuant to the Costa-Machado Water Act of 2000 (Proposition 13) and any amendments of this document thereto for the implementation of California’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. The contents of the Plan do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the SWRCB, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
STORM DRAIN DAYLIGHTING

The Glen Avenue Drainage System is a large storm drain system tributary to the Compton Creek; it drains 4.6 square miles (approximately 10%) of the Compton Creek Watershed, which is a 42 square mile subwatershed of the Lower Los Angeles River. The drain runs under the Jordan Downs Housing project, Mona Boulevard, and Willowbrook Avenue (past Compton City Hall and the Gateway Town Center.


The Glen Avenue drains were originally constructed in the 1930s. As a result of continued urbanization, polluted runoff has increased, as has the risk of local flooding during major storm events.


Storm drain daylighting is a holistic watershed management concept which addresses flood management, infiltration, water supply, open space and Page 5 of 5 habitat needs in the region. The Storm Drain Daylighting Feasibility Study focuses on four sites along the Glen Avenue Drainage System and its tributary streams. The Council for Watershed Health and a team of engineering and design consultants have modeled the hydraulics of daylighting designs and designed open spaces that help clean up water pollution and improve our water supply. The purpose of the Feasibility Study is to propose funding-ready daylighting projects along the Glen Avenue Drainage System.


Visit our ‘Documents’ library (on the left margin of this page) to access the completed Compton Creek Earthen Bottom Enhancement Feasibility Study.”



Funding was provided by proposition 40 through the River and Mountains Conservancy
EARTHEN BOTTOM FEASIBILITY STUDY

From where the Compton Creek is bridged by a parking area between the Crystal Park Casino and the Gateway Town Center in Compton, the earthen bottom portion of the Creek extends downstream for approximately 2.5 miles to its confluence with the Los Angeles River. Creek flood capacity is a major concern; a County-funded “Flood Risk Mitigation Feasibility Study” is currently being conducted to determine what, if any, measures need to be taken to improve the Creek’s Capacity. Currently, regular maintenance practices exist for removing vegetation that slows the conveyance of water through the channel but no other improvements to the capacity of the creek are scheduled.


Funded by the California Coastal Conservancy and released before the County embarked on their Flood Risk Mitigation Feasibility Study, the Earthen Bottom Feasibility Study suggests a balanced approach to maximizing flood protection, creating high quality habitat, and improving water quality within the Creek.


Visit our ‘Documents’ library (on the left margin of this page) to access the completed Compton Creek Earthen Bottom Enhancement Feasibility Study.”



Funding was provided from Proposition 50 through the Coastal Conservancy
COMPTON CREEK

Compton Creek is a 42.1 square mile sub-watershed within the Los Angeles River Watershed. Water quality impairments, as listed on the California’s 303(d) list, include copper, lead, pH and coliform bacteria.


The watershed is highly urbanized; only 3.3% of the land is open space, parks, agriculture, or vacant. The Compton Creek Watershed is predominantly residential, comprised of small single family homes, multifamily units, and significant areas of commercial and industrial facilities.


There are few remaining large open space areas. Wetlands habitat within the earthen-bottom southern portion of the creek channel still remains, albeit in degraded condition. The watershed is park-poor with only 0.6 acres of park per one thousand persons; though they vary, minimum standards for urban park space fall near 4 acres per one thousand persons. The Watershed also contains a large number of small and medium-sized vacant lots.


Nonpoint source pollution from urban runoff is one of the most important contributors of pollutants to Compton Creek. The highly urbanized nature of the Compton Creek Watershed indicates that a lack of permeable surfaces may aggravate the nonpoint source pollution problem.


The northern, upstream portion of Compton Creek is a concrete-lined box channel, while the southern portion of the Creek is an earthen-bottom trapezoidal section with reinforced 'riprap' banks. The earthen-bottom portion of Compton Creek contains remnant wetland habitat and adjoins some potential sites for constructed or treatment wetlands as well as wetland restoration. Although invaded by exotic species, the area already supports a fair amount of wildlife.


The Compton Creek starts at a convergence of underground storm drains and flows through western Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, and Carson, before reaching the confluence with the Los Angeles River in North Long Beach.


The City of Compton and the County of Los Angeles have completed bikeway segments along 5 miles of the 8.5 mile-long Compton Creek.




PLANNING CONTEXT
   
The LA Regional Water Quality Control Board funded the Council for Watershed Health to write the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan (published in 2005).
   
The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) funded the City of Compton to produce the Compton Creek Regional Garden Park Master Plan (published and adopted in 2006).
   
The California Coastal Conservancy funded the Council for Watershed Health to develop the Compton Creek Earthen Bottom Enhancement Feasibility Study (draft currently in review).
   
The RMC funded the Council for Watershed Health to develop the Storm Drain Daylighting Feasibility Study for a subwatershed of the Compton Creek (underway).


COUNCIL FOR WATERSHED HEALTH ROLE

The Council for Watershed Health has been involved with the Compton Creek Watershed since 2003. We work to develop, fund, and coordinate projects which support the goals of the Watershed Management Plan, the Regional Garden Park Master Plan, the Earthen Bottom Enhancement Feasibility Study, and other programs and projects linked to watershed stewardship, including:

Conducting outreach to public agencies, elected officials, and large land-owners,
   
Updating and maintaining an inventory of watershed projects,
   
Assisting organizations, agencies, and governments in developing new Watershed-related projects and
   
Seeking funding for capital projects, maintenance, and programs.
 
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