More money due for basin repair

Crews will continue working through fall in preparation for storm season.

June 29, 2010|By Melanie Hicken,

As construction crews continue to expand six foothill debris basins in preparation for next year's storms, Los Angeles County officials today are expected to allocate hundreds of thousands more for additional construction projects.

Earlier this month, crews contracted by Los Angeles County began a $1-million expansion of the Pickens, Snover, Big Briar, Mullally, Pinelawn and Starfall debris basins. The work is slated to continue through October.

County officials have said the expansion should help prevent the devastation that occurred in February when the Mullaly Debris Basin overflowed, sending mud and debris that severely damaged homes in La Cañada's Paradise Valley neighborhood.


"We're doing what we can do to deal with storms in this peace time," Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of Los Angeles County Public Works said at a community meeting earlier this year.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to extend emergency negotiating authority so that public works officials can negotiate additional construction contracts without going through the traditional bidding process, which can take months.

State law requires the supervisors to renew the authority to negotiate every two weeks.

Officials plan to strike a deal for $150,000 in repairs on the Dunsmuir Debris Basin, in the hills above north Glendale.

Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn said the county repairs are important to make sure that the basin filters water from the mud and debris that fill it during heavy rains.

"It's certainly a main basin up there," he said.

The county crews and dump trucks, which will continue through the summer and into fall, have been a fixture in the foothill communities since the massive Station fire scorched the foothills — leaving the hillsides bare and prone to runoff and mudflows.

Officials placed hundreds of concrete barriers, called K-rails, and laid hundreds of sandbags in preparation for the winter storms. And in recent months, crews have worked to remove more than 1 million cubic yards of mud and debris from the basins.

Some residents have complained about the constant truck traffic caused by the cleanup and construction efforts.

But Crescenta Valley Town Councilwoman Kim Mattersteig said the work does give the community more peace of mind heading into next winter.

"I'm glad to see it happen," she said. "It needs to happen. I think we are fearful that next season could be worse."

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