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Fun Facts about the Los Angeles River

  • The River is the reason that the City of Los Angeles was established where it is.
  • The River was the City’s main source of water supply until 1914.
  • The River is home to over 250 species of birds.
  • The River was once a prime habitat for Grizzly Bears.
  • The last photo of a native Steelhead Trout caught in the River was in the late 1940s.
  • Water quality in the living sections of the River is markedly better than in its concrete stretches.
  • It took 30 years and 3.5 million barrels of concrete to channelize the River.
  • In 1995, it was designated the country’s Most Threatened and Endangered River.
  • Prior to channelization, 215,000 acres were subject to flooding.After channelization and subsequent development, 325,000 acres were at risk. Over 60% of our urban landscape is paved.
  • Urbanization has greatly altered the rivers’ natural flow and the functioning of our watershed. 100 years ago, as much as 80% of rainwater could percolate into the ground Now as little as 10% of rainwater percolates into the ground, with the rest draining out to sea. An acre of parking lot produces 1600% more runoff than an acre of green space.
  • In times of peak flow, the river carries as much water as of 80 million garden hoses going full blast per second out to the Pacific Ocean – 14 times the flow of NY’s Hudson River.
  • An acre-foot of water is the amount of water it takes to cover a football field to 1’ deep. An acre-foot of local groundwater used for drinking water costs about $200 An acre-foot of imported MWD drinking water costs about $800 (and rising) An acre-foot of Evian cost about $3 Million Each 1” storm creates 24,000 acre-feet of run-off, costing us ~$19 Million. The San Fernando Valley Groundwater Basin has 505,000 acre-feet of available storage space.
  • THIS IS NOT A DESERT!! We live in a Mediterranean climate zone characterized by wet winters and long dry summers. The Mediterranean ecosystem exists on only 3% of the earth’s land surface, and worldwide, is more threatened than the rainforest. Our ecosystem is one of the world’s top ten "hotspots" of biodiversity.
  • More than 30 federal, state and local agencies are involved the Los Angeles River.

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