Guest Opinion | Tom Seifert: What ‘One Arroyo’ Means for Us

Published : Monday, August 14, 2017 | 4:18 PM

Images courtesy of The Arroyo Advisory Group (AAG)

Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco has long suffered from being ‘over-loved’, to quote Mayor Terry Tornek, but undermanaged, characterized by overlapping responsibilities without complementary authority, inadequate funding and deferred maintenance. The formation of the newly formed Arroyo Advisory Group (AAG) is intended to address all of these issues and more.

Over the years there have been many chapters and verses of attempts to improve the Arroyo, some good, some not so good. Devil’s Gate Dam was constructed in 1920, followed closely thereafter by the Rose Bowl in 1922. Exclusive user groups began appearing in the 1930s, but the most significant change occurred in the 1940s when the Arroyo stream was channelized. Some of the earlier uses, which have come and fortunately gone include a city dump, pig farms, lumber mills, gold mining sieves and gravel pits.

While the lower Arroyo and Hahamongna have desperately clung to the moniker of “natural park”, in spite of many attempts to the contrary, the stream channelization severely degraded the natural beauty of the Arroyo and its flora and fauna by depriving the area of its primary source of water. An attempt was made in the 1990s in the Lower Arroyo to address this situation with the Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) low-flow stream mitigation project. That project introduced free-flowing streams on both sides of the concrete channel by diverting water at the “slime slide” that rejoined the flood channel above Busch Gardens. It was a tremendous success for almost 20 years until recently, when the drought hit, the portals were allowed to clog, the streams dried up and much of the foliage died.

There have been many commitments over the years to fund the more than $80 million of proposed Arroyo projects, both capital and maintenance, in the City’s Capital Improvement Program. Tragically, those funds have not been made available or allocated. While millions have been spent upgrading the Rose Bowl, very little has been devoted to protect and preserve, Pasadena’s greatest natural treasure. Many hope that the work of the AAG will address all of this issues and turn our Arroyo Seco into the One Arroyo of which we can all be proud.

Step number one is the critical community outreach portion of the AAG’s work. Meetings are being planned throughout the city for maximum citizen input. Please take advantage and make your voice be heard: what you like, what you don’t like, but most importantly, what can be done to make the Arroyo Seco the best that it can be … for now, for tomorrow and for the next 100 years and beyond.


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