A Los Angeles Superior Court judge postponed a trial over a lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles County Flood Control District’s so-called “Big Dig” project in the reservoir of Devil’s Gate Dam, located in Hahamongna Watershed Park, ruling the county did not provide enough time for people to comment on the project’s environmental impact report.
The Flood Control District is currently in the early stages of removing 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment and debris that has accumulated in the dam’s reservoir — a project that could last four years and require daily hauling of up to 475 truckloads of dirt.
Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, which along with the Pasadena Audubon sued the district, said the foundation agreed to the postponement because it was not its intention to stop the sediment removal project.
“Our goal has been to minimize the negative aspects of the project, such as noise, dust, traffic and air pollution, and to ensure that the resulting Hahamongna management program is ongoing and protects the unique environmental values of the area,” said Brick, who is also a member of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors.
“We want the county to treat the Arroyo Seco like a river and to implement nature-based solutions that will serve our region well as we face climate change and the challenges of nature,” Brick said in a prepared statement.
If the two sides cannot develop an agreement, Judge James Chalfant will hear oral arguments on July 30 regarding the tentative ruling. If he finalizes the tentative decision, he will order the Flood Control District to revise and recirculate the project’s EIR and set aside or vacate the project’s approvals. All project activity would then cease pending revision of the project’s environmental document.
The Arroyo Seco Foundation and the Pasadena Audubon Society are expected to work with county flood control officials to develop a comprehensive settlement agreement.
“The Pasadena Audubon Society is gratified that the court recognizes that the county has failed to work transparently with the public, despite their frequent claims to the contrary,” said Laura Solomon, president of the Pasadena Audubon Society.
“We hope that the county will do its job to protect the land, the birds, and the people by shrinking the size of the permanent footprint of the project, using the cleanest trucks possible to move the sediment, and truly restoring the Hahamongna basin, especially the nesting habitat they have destroyed,” Solomon said.