Saturday, November 16, 2013

They say tomatoes, I say Hahamongna

"The Devil's Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal and Management Project [will host] an estimated maximum of 425 truck round trips per day." [six days a week, for five years.]

Let me preface this by saying, that which the County is now calling Devil's Gate Reservoir is actually, mostly, for all of us who hike, bike, gallop, run, jog, stroll, and admire the acreage, that which the County calls Devil's Gate Reservoir, is in reality, primarily, Hahamongna Natural Watershed Park.

I got nervous, the moment I saw they were morphing the name.

As to the sediment abatement plan, you know, if we can put a man on the moon, and we did; if we can put a robot on Mars, and we have; then why can't we address a silt-removal problem at a local dam with a certain amount of sophistication?

Moving dirt in trucks, four hundred-plus trucks per day? Apparently, were it not for the internal combustion engine, we'd be hitching up the mule train and grabbing our shovels. Is this the best our brilliant County, and their highly-paid scientists, engineers, consultants and more consultants, can imagine, configure?

I don't know all the possible options, not by a long shot. But sluicing seemed worth pursuing. As to that option, the consultants hired another consultant who printed some xxx-page report to say that sluicing wouldn't work. Well, maybe not. Who is this gentleman, I asked? Oh, the best in class, they answered, an expert from San Diego State Uni.

Fair enough. But we're talking big budget here. So, I ask the County, you went to San Diego and, what, the mule wouldn't move? Like, you couldn't afford to call the Netherlands, for instance? Japan? Denmark? Just one consultant, for a multi-million dollar project?

So the County position at the meeting today -- trucking dirt. Four hundred truck trips a day, six months a year, for five years -- worst-case scenario. (When officials start positing a worst-case scenario, they're talking as good as it gets.)

If this plan goes through, I say, follow the money. Look closely, very closely, at the dump truck, bulldozer, and crane contracts. That'll be a helluva scoop.

Anyway, I found this clip. If the County proceeds, here's our wildlife, here's our Hahamongna Natural Watershed Park. Dig it.


  1. At 12 hours per day (7am-7pm, there goes rush hour), 425 trucks per day, they're talking about a truck arriving at the dam every 1.69411764705882 minutes. Your video demonstrates that (unless there's one shovel per truck, which I don't think so), a truck can't be filled in 1.69411764705882 minutes. That mines a line-up of trucks, idling, sending fumes into the air and noise up and down the streets.

    Hugh Bowles asked them to get outside experts. They said, "we're the experts." I beg to differ. This is 1950's technology. And even if it's not, they've lied to us so much that they need to get corroboration before people are going to go with this.

    You can email your opinions to These comments must be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report.

  2. And I'm glad you mentioned that "reservoir" thing. I don't think I've ever heard it referred to as the "Devil's Gate Reservoir" until today's meeting.

  3. OMG, I went to the meeting and didn't even know what the sign for the devils gate meant!

  4. Devil's Gate Dam has been around for, well, seems like forever. I believe it was built in 1920 or so. I've *never* heard of reservoir attached to it or to Haha. Old timers call it Devil's Gate or DGD, but what freekin reservoir? There's always been some water running thru the Arroyo Seco, but the whole reason JPL was out there testing was because it was basically DRY! Global warming hasn't helped make the AS more wet!

    It is too bad that the good folks of Linda Vista and/or the Rose Bowl area folks, aren't banding together to stand up as old residents did to prevent Linda Vista Ave from becoming a truck thru-way eons ago. The residents LV did not want sooty trucks dirtying their neighborhood, jamming their residential streets and mowing down their children.

    For years the LC/F folks looked the other way as JPL leeched junk into the watershed out there when they tested rockets, but this is something that I would think current residents would NOT look the other way.

    I'm wondering why the silt is "suddenly" at the Gate. I understand the fire and the rains, but we've had fires before, we've had huge rains before (anyone here remember swimming thru 1968, 1982 and 1986?). I don't recall having a project like this to "fix what nature created".

    At my estimation, if there were 425 trucks a day, times 6 months a year, time 5 years, we're talking almost 300k trucks worth of silt. If I recall correctly, that's 20 cubic yards per truck, at ~6M cubic yards of silt removed. 6M cuyds of native habitat being removed? Really? Even CalTrans seems to have given up on the concept of the 710 being above-ground thru Alhambra, SoPas and the rest of Pasadena, why does DWP think removing 6Mcuyd of silt is doing the habitat good? Are they going to truck that silt back up into the San Gabriel Mtns where it came from? I suppose they'll suggest the "river" rocks that cover most of the LA Basin should be schlepped back up the hill and replaced in those mountains (nevermind removing them from all the houses in the Basin who are built with those "river" rocks).

    I wish DPW weren't lying for whatever their agenda is. The only reason LA has a "water problem" is because they obtain so much water from NorCal. If there is *such* a problem, turn off the Aqueduct and be self sufficient for a few years to help quell the concerns of too much water!

  5. Oh, Trish, if you sat next to me, I'd stay for the whole damn dam meeting. And as you say, "I've *never* heard of reservoir attached to it or to Haha. Old timers call it Devil's Gate or DGD, but what freekin reservoir?"

  6. And by the way, just by the way, if the City of Pasadena had followed through with the plans for the three soccer fields, bike paths, nature center, would the County still be renaming the area a reservoir?

  7. Yes, changing the name is an old propaganda trick, isn't it? So is narrowing the option from "whether" to "how little and how much."

    I hope there was a good turnout at the meeting.

  8. I can't believe this plan. It sounds so destructive and disruptive. The County may like this plan, but I don't believe the County residents would support it, if really aware of what it means.

  9. I'm surprised that some have not petitioned for a name change. The Tampa Devil Rays are now just the rays.
    Around here we have the Devil's Crossing--- non-marked RR crossing where accidents have taken lives.

  10. The word "reservoir" makes sense to me if they mean a limited area directly behind the dam, where stormwater collects and is released slowly to avoid flooding downstream. It's natural for sediment to build up and it does have to be taken away from time to time, or there's no room for water from future storms.

    To me, the key is, how much of this land is the city taking for the reservoir? We have storms that drop huge amounts of water in relatively little time, although very seldom. Independent experts can figure out how large the reservoir needs to be to handle water from a 5-, 10-, 15-, whatever-year storm. Then the decision is how much of a risk to take.

    I haven't been to any meetings (sorry...) but has the city said what year storm this reservoir will be able to handle? It would be interesting to see exactly how large it would have to be to handle, say, a 50-year storm, compared to how large they're planning to make it.

  11. The worst case scenario is NINE months a year - from April 15 to Dec 15!

  12. It's a real testament of devotion by you and others that you've stayed committed to saving this piece of precious real estate. I think you have to pick your battles and luckily, for Hahamongna, you have and you're still willing to fight for it.

  13. Thanks, Paula, but my contribution has been really minimal; I've just written some pieces over the past few years. It's others who have done the heavy lifting for a long, long time.

    Petrea and Jean, those sounds. I think about Christina Wenger and others who live along the rim.

    Anon, you're right.

    Janet, I'm the wrong one to ask, but from what I can tell, the various options stretch up to the JPL parking lot.

    Trish, you make for some excellent and scary reading.

    John, I know. With a PR background, the tricks are sometimes easy to spot.

  14. Sorry, but I am not familiar with this issues, but I wish Hahamongna will be save.
    Love the photo and the reflection!

  15. I'm sorry you folks have to keep fighting to save this wonderful place. Best of luck to you!

  16. Sounds like it's time for a citizen uprising. Once the natural beauty is gone it will be almost impossible to get it back. Are there environmental groups who could do some of the heavy lifting? This is a tough fight for individuals, not to say it can't be done, because of the organization necessary to pull it off. I wish all of you the best of luck ~

  17. Devil's Gate Dam has never been a reservoir, ever. As in, something to walk *around* or boat in, or have kids (of all ages) to sail little boats around in. It has been a dam, to save the Arroyo Seco from the raging water that has been known to come down during the very occasional storm. Except in the years I mentioned, I've never seen the dam have any issues holding back what was being held back (to say, keep Brookside, the RB and the fields from turning into Arroyo Seco reservoir). I'm not aware of any previous silt removal, especially not for a 5 year project. Mud being removed from Oak Grove when there was a flood from Foothill, down the hill into the park has been done, but mostly so folks could get to JPL and to LCHS. I'm really not recalling when there has been a huge problem. And, if there is such a problem with silt, why is this not an annual "repair" to remove the silt in say May or June each year? And if there is so much water, how about more perc ponds to help serve LC/F and/or Pasadena with what is caught?

    I have known people who lived in LV from 1905 or so (ok, so those folks are long gone). I've got some history in this area and would like to think that those who live there now would also like to save some of the nature that is so beautiful, amongst all that has been created by humans in these last 100 years.

    I'm happy to sit at a meeting with you Hiker. Though, I've been thrown out of several meetings like this for being a rabble-rouser, quelle surprise! ;-)

  18. and is Sierra Club not involved at all?

  19. To my knowledge, Trish, local activists and lawyers (pro bono) have been doing this all on their own. I don't think any national environmental group has lent support. You know what else I find strange? Were you around when a Native American group was able to change the name of the area from Oak Grove Park to Hahamongna? I'm pretty sure the major part of their platform was that this area was, is, sacred ground. Where are these folks now?

  20. In all the years I've been involved with Hahamongna, it's never been called a reservoir until now. Sounds good, doesn't it? They're preparing for two extreme rainfall events, possibly one following another over a period of a few days.

  21. Is it a reservoir or a dam? WTF is it? It's a failure, that's what it is. All those people placing their trust in a failed dam! I pray for thee.

  22. We should get the scientologists involved because L. Ron Hubbard came up with his ideas there: Devil's Gate was a portal to another world, wasn't it? Those scientologists have deep pockets.

  23. The dam is the structure that holds back stormwater. The place the water collects and is stored is the reservoir. People may not have called it that, but that's what it is. The land stretching beyond that is the watershed, where stormwater would go without all the engineering that's been done.

    When sediment is removed in a timely matter, it is no big deal, but when it has been left to build up for decades, this is what happens.

    First, a high potential for flooding, since stormwater has nowhere to go. And second, a wonderful habitat has grown up and cannot remain if the dam is to function.

    The question is, how much habitat has to go. If there hasn't been any flooding for almost 100 years, it seems to me that the reservoir doesn't have to be bigger, or much bigger, than it already is.

    It would be very interesting to see an engineer's plans for a 50- and a 100-year storm (Bellis - this is what they might be talking about) and compare them to the size of the reservoir as it was built.

    I wish the city would explore other ways to handle stormwater at the park so it would infiltrate into the aquifer. It's a wasted opportunity now.

  24. Before I read Petrea's math, I was going to say that at 425 round trips per day, in 8 hour days (because public projects are not done in 12 hour days, at least not in any place I've ever been), that's 50-plus truckloads per day. Presuming the trucks only have to travel 3 miles in each direction, perhaps each truck can do 4 round trips per hour, thus requiring at least 12 trucks and 12 loaders (shovels), and that will be absurdly pricy, noisy and smelly. You have some local contributors with plenty of valid information here; I think you should start a letter writing and meeting invasion, er, attendance, campaign.

  25. Marjie, they actually told us they would be doing 12 hour days (7am-7pm), and an estimated 425 trucks per day.

    You point out that public projects are done in 8 hour days. Hmm, yes. Are they going to pay these truckers overtime?

    The dump sites are more like 10-12 miles away, I think.

    I proposed a petition because I'd love to make the issue more public, at least state-wide if not national, but only one or two people were interested.

  26. Hurray, Tim Brick has a better plan for dealing with the sediment.

  27. let us be clear, the dam was shown not to be seismically prudent many years ago. Even if DWP wanted to put millions of gallons of water in a "reservoir" here, they could not without pouring BILLIONS into restoration/rebuilding of the dam. In fact, the silt is probably holding the dam together and protecting the lower Arroyo Seco, more than anything else they could do. You know how it goes, you clean something up like a chimney, and it might seem fit to put a fire in it (its usual use), but then you find out it has structural issues that would prevent you from ever building a fire in it again, without risking burning down your entire house.

    What I'm wondering is, if the silt must be removed (can anyone show me when this removal has been done in the last 100 years?) why not use a specific crawler to move the silt elsewhere within the preserve rather than 500 trucks a day, plus several skip loaders a day? They use crawlers to move the NASA rockets (hey JPL is just up the silt, maybe THEY can help), as well as thousands of projects overseas where they don't want tons of machinery.

    And where is the silt being moved to?

    I'd love to know where the natives are now that they have their named park and why they aren't in on this if this is sacred ground.

    I'd also love to know why Sierra Club and other groups aren't involved too.

    I believe the name change was done in the 1990's. While I was visiting still, I wasn't living there anymore, Hiker. I remember the fight, but from a distance. There is so much land, I wish the natives would fight to get more of it back, or at least protect it. Ironically enough, my native DNA isn't local, otherwise I'd find out whomever was in charge and use my DNA to help HaHa.

    Finally, are any of the local politicians giving a dam(n)?

  28. ok, went and looked at Tim's video. Almost sounds like we've been talking, but Tim and I, as far as I know, have never met.

    Slow, letting nature survive, contact your reps, help the neighborhood.

  29. Local Sierra Club members, members of the Audubon Society, etc. are involved. But I don't believe there's national involvement.

    As for the Native Americans, they are splintered. They haven't been recognized by the US Government as a legitimate tribe, and they don't all agree as to how to get this recognition or what to call themselves.

    The County rep said they are in touch with the Gabrielenos about the project. I don't know how the Gabrielenos feel about it.

  30. Let's see here. Somebody is going to make a truck full of money on this. Maybe a lot of trucks full...
    Hey, are the 100 mules still in town?

  31. watershed: :a time when an important change happens :a line of hills or mountains from which rivers drain: a ridge between two rivers :the area of land that includes a particular river or lake and all the rivers, streams, etc., that flow into it.

    No wonder they're morphing the name...