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Preservationist Still Not Happy With Arroyo Seco Canyon Project

Published on Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 6:40 am

A local preservationist is not happy with a compromise passed by the City Council on Monday that included the certification of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The Arroyo Seco Foundation along with reservationists oppose the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project because they say repairing and replacing new facilities in the Hahamongna endangers trout swimming in the area.

On Monday, Councilmember Felicia Williams introduced a motion that removed several conditions from the EIR and modified others to provide accountability to the City’s Water and Power Department.

“Hahamongna lost,” said Tim Brick, executive director of the ASF. “The Arroyo Seco Canyon Project is a foolish, outdated program that will degrade the Arroyo Seco and contribute to the devastating decline in local groundwater levels.”

Under the compromise, Pasadena Water and Power will conduct an infiltration study to analyze percolation rates in-stream within the Project area, operate the water intake and diversion system in accordance with a fish survey permitted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other regulatory requirements.

PWP will also make renewed efforts to identify and understand the fish status within the streams and seek to support its habitat.

Along with other water agencies, PWP will explore means to recharge the Raymond Basin and provide semi-annual updates to the City Council or the Municipal Services Committee on efforts to work with RBMB [Raymond Basin Management Board] to promote sustainability of the Basin.

Damage to the structures by the 2009 Station Fire — the largest fire in LA County history — has greatly reduced the City’s capacity to divert water from the Arroyo Seco.

The proposed improvements, which would come via two Conditional Use Permits, would allow for increased utilization of the city’s pre-1914 surface water rights from the Arroyo Seco.

The utility is collaborating with the RBMB to propose policies and pursue any additional projects that further protect and enhance the groundwater basin.

Pasadena gets about 40% of its drinking water from the Raymond Basin, a 40 square mile natural aquifer, an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock.

The basin is under Pasadena and neighboring cities. The basin water originates as rain falling in the San Gabriel Mountains. As the water percolates deep into the ground over many months it is cleansed through natural filtration processes. PWP has 7 wells that tap into the basin at depths of 300-500 feet, drawing out 13 million gallons of groundwater or more per day, on average.

Due to population increase and development, the basin cannot provide enough water to meet demand, even in wet years.

The city wants to increase the amount of water it diverts from the Arroyo Seco to the Raymond Basin by 15%, from 35% to 50%, due to impacts by recent droughts. The droughts, combined with several other factors, including climate change, have contributed to decreasing groundwater levels in the Raymond Basin.

To maintain and increase groundwater levels, the Raymond Basin Management Board (RBMB) initiated a voluntary 30% reduction of groundwater production rights for all pumpers in the Pasadena subarea in 2009.

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