As a true native of Los Angeles, California, we are always amused by efforts to “restore” the Los Angeles River. In today’s Los Angeles Times, Sam Allen reports that “The Los Angeles Conservation Corps celebrated the second season of its “Paddle the L.A. River” program.” We’ve got news for the LACC: “It never rains in California.” (Our apologies to Albert Hammond.) So where does the water in the Los Angeles River come from? See:
The story says “The trips began at Balboa Park.” True enough, but that’s in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, which gets about 15 inches of rain a year, and usually from about five good storms during the first ten weeks of the calendar year. So how is there any water in the Los Angeles River in September?
A permanent resident of Balboa Park is the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. Built in the 1980’s, it treats municipal wastewater from much of the San Fernando Valley. It’s discharge point is the Los Angeles River. That’s correct, folks. The “headwaters” (we’re sure to get a comment on that term!) for the Los Angeles River is the sewage plant!
Fear not, folks. The Tillman folks do a great job, and the water that they return to Nature (after we Humans have borrowed it for a little while) is generally of better quality than what we got from Nature.
We were privileged to be the lead instructor for the crew at Tillman shortly after the plant began operating, nearly 30 years ago. So have no qualms about kayaking in the Los Angeles River. The good folks at the Tillman plant are on the job. Thank you for a job well done! And please keep in mind that all water is recycled water!