The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors initiated a plan on Dec. 6 to assess the County’s infrastructure in the face of the inevitable impacts of Climate Change on the region.
The unanimously approved motion by Board Chair Janice Hahn directed the County’s Public Works department and Chief Sustainability Officer to assess and report on the regional stormwater system that mitigates flood risk for much of the LA Basin. It further directed LA County Public Works to design equitable and effective capital improvements to the system, while advocating for funding to move projects forward.
The impacts of Climate Change on weather patterns across the nation and around the world have had dramatic effect on Los Angeles County, as well. Extreme weather events, including drought and wildfires, have focused attention on the potential for more severe storms and flooding and whether the County’s regional backbone flood protection system is prepared to keep communities safe.
“Los Angeles County Public Works, in coordination with Federal, State and academic experts, has adopted climate models specific to our region,” said Los Angeles County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella, P.E. “The County is defining a risk and vulnerability index for low probability, high impact events, such as those described in recent news articles on the flood risk impacts of Climate Change on low-income communities.
“The County Board of Supervisors will consider a number of recommendations to reduce flood risk for residents and businesses upon receipt of this important report,” he said.
The Board’s direction aligns with climate actions established by the County’s Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2019, to make infrastructure enhancements that reduce flood risk, increase water supply through stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, and improve water quality in Los Angeles County.
LA County Public Works initiated a UCLA study to assess the performance of the County’s infrastructure in a climate-altered future. And a recent technical study by the University of California Irvine explored potential flood impacts of climate change on the County’s South Bay, historically lower-income communities of color between the Dominguez Channel and Los Angeles River.
The department has made major infrastructure investments in recent years, including upgrades to its system of 14 major dams and reservoirs and 620 miles of flood control channel that mitigates flood risk while boosting local water supplies.
The voter-approved Safe Clear Water Program has a community-driven process that plans and funds multi-benefit projects that increase stormwater capture, as well as improve community amenities, such as Oxford Basin in Marina del Rey, Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook and Franklin D. Roosevelt Park in Florence-Graham.
The County also participates in the National Flood Insurance program to empower homeowners, business owners and renters to purchase federally-backed flood insurance at a discount, based on Public Works’ proactive outreach and mitigation efforts.
The Board of Supervisors is taking the lead to see that all residents are safe and secure in the face of natural and human-caused disasters in the face of climate change, with a focus on the Board’s priorities of equity and resiliency.