[KHTS] – Residents up Bouquet Canyon have been watching their wells go dry in recent months, and they’re hoping to see the process to clean Bouquet Creek move faster now that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a local state of emergency.
The board passed Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s motion Tuesday to declare an emergency in Bouquet Canyon where dry wells and leaving residents thirsty.
Silt buildup in Bouquet Creek has made the creek level with Bouquet Canyon Road, Antonovich said at the meeting, creating a flood hazard when it rains or water is released into the creek.
Bouquet Creek in wetter times.
The county Department of Water and Power is restricting water flow into the creek until the silt is removed, but laws passed within the last 10 years have protracted the cleaning process.
“You have all these rules that make it difficult to do anything,” said Edel Vizcarra, Antonovich’s planning and public works deputy, in a previous interview.
He explained that county officials had to work with multiple agencies to address the urgent need of residents.
The emergency declaration will give the U.S. Forest Service some justification for expediting county requests to clean the creek.
Several Bouquet Canyon residents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, expressing their support for Antonovich’s motion and explaining the difficulties of living without ready access to water.
Roger Haring, who has lived in the area since 1975, stressed the fact that Bouquet Canyon is historically a wild fire corridor and has experienced five major fires since 1970.
“Consider the fact that not only for domestic use and agricultural production, we need the water for fire protection,” he said.
Another resident, who had lived in Bouquet Canyon since 2009, said that while he didn’t know the history of the issue, he and his family of six were feeling the effects of a dry well.
The water coming out of the faucets in his home is so murky that his family is unable to drink it, he said.
Kathy Sturkey, executive director of LARC Ranch, a local residential facility for developmentally disabled adults, also addressed the board.
LARC Ranch, with its 3,000-gallon water tank is a valuable community resource, she said, and needs to be maintained.
LARC’s water was used by firefighters during the Buckweed fire in 2007.
The Department of Water and Power is in full support of an emergency declaration, a department spokesman said at the meeting, but he also noted that the department would not release water in an amount that would pose a safety hazard for bicyclists and motorists on Bouquet Canyon Road.
The emergency proclamation submitted by Antonovich identifies the “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons, public and private property (that) exist as a result of the reduced flood carrying capacity of Bouquet Canyon Creek, which, during storm events, has resulted in conditions that are beyond the control of local resources.”
The motion was passed by the board without objection and the next step would be to forward a copy to the state Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, requesting that “a Governor’s Proclamation be provided under the California Disaster Assistance Act, and State agencies waive regulations as necessary to remedy and immediately restore the flood carrying capacity of Bouquet Canyon Creek; and forward a copy of the proclamation to all appropriate Federal agencies requesting similar action,” according to Antonovich’s motion.