html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Well, sortof.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Well, sortof.

Two water stories that aren't quite what I'm used to:

To combat the drought in Georgia, Governor Perdue called on citizens to gather and, um, pray.
At the state capitol in Georgia Tuesday, the governor tried something different. On a partly cloudy warm fall day, hundreds of people from the region came to join Gov. Sonny Perdue in a prayer service for rain.

"I'm here today to appeal to you and to all Georgians and all people who believe in the power of prayer to ask God to shower our state, our region, our nation with the blessings of water," Perdue said.

Perdue, a Baptist, said people here have not done all they can to conserve and manage the state's resources. ...

Carla Clark and her pastor, David Harris, came from Cumming, Ga.

"There's no doubt in our minds," Clark said. "We came prepared with our umbrellas because we fully expected the heavens to open."

They did not teach us this in my hydrology classes. I do not understand how the mechanism works. I suppose that if one has not built a very large storage and delivery system, one must try other options. Since we aren't sure that our very large plumbing will be sufficient to meet our needs under climate change, perhaps I will mention this approach to the authors of the Water Plan.

Via Slog

Also, this:
Restoring the LA River is a Very Fine Idea. I am one hundred percent behind it, and think that you should click on over and give all your possessions to FoLAR. But that picture? The LA River will never look like that. That is not a western river. Perhaps it is the Hudson or something. Whatever it is, it is ALL WRONG, in lots of ways.

The two blatantly wrong things about that "river" is that it has water in it, and that it is straight. That is so silly. Rivers aren't like that. Just so's you appreciate, Mr. Fancy Ad Design Person from far away, rivers out here are braided channels, that dry up over summer. Big water in the LA River in the summertime would be landscaping run-off and we can't afford to let our sprinklers run long enough to fill a river.

That straight channel for that river makes me sad. If it is some eastern river, as I suspect, maybe it was straightened for transportation? But if it is a western river that got channelized, it was straightened for flood control. The old flood control paradigm was to get big amounts of water out to the ocean as fast as possible. Now that we're afraid of floods that are too big for our current channels, we're re-thinking all of it. Where there's room, the goal should be levees set far back from the river. Engineers with advanced degrees call those "set-back levees", but it would take too long for me to try to explain that to you. The goal of wide set-back levees is to give the river room to roam and also have riparian vegetation, which makes for good fish habitat in the river. Fish like shade and nooks from fallen limbs and nutrients from debris. When floods come crashing through straightened channels, the velocities are so high they can strip the river bare. When the floods recede, there's no vegetation left to reestablish itself. Big wide channels mean slower floods, and hope of vegetation persisting to re-establish itself after the flood.

Anyway, the point of all that was that the LA River, fantastic idea that it is, will never look like that picture. It could look good, though. It could and should be a functioning river again, meandering through a wide and changing bed.

Via MilitantAngeleno, via BagNewsNotes.

I've linked this before, because it is effin' incredible. If you haven't clicked through the full-river-length pictures of the Los Angeles River, you should.


Blogger Mark said...

The artist needs the river to be that shape because the whole point is for it to mimic the shape of the Absolut bottle.

Back when I lived in L.A., the oldtimer on the block was a guy who bought his house not long after getting back from WWII. He said he bought it before it was even built, just from seeing the paper plan of the neighborhood. I asked him why he picked his lot.

"I could tell from the map that this lot was the highest up" (I look around and see that it indeed is) "And that would give me a great view of the river over there." (He waves in the direction of the 405 freeway.)

Talk about bait and switch.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH! I didn't even cue into the Absolut bottle. This even though I've seen the ad campaign before. Well, s/he still doesn't know anything about western rivers.

Dude. A fine view of the 405? Hope he likes infrastructure.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

He doesn't even get a good infrastructure view, because of the noise abatement wall.

I didn't know enough at the time to ask him if that part of the river had already been channelized when his home was built. I was too much in shock at the notion that standing before me was someone who remembered people riding horses along the riverside trail where the 405 now sits.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Oh, and my best guess as to the raw material used to make that picture is Marina Del Rey. Straight channel, always has sailboats going in and out on sunny days. And it's 5 minutes from that shot location.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Yeah, also, that boat is gonna have some problems with that bridge. Bad perspective cues.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, that's only really true of more southern rivers in the west. That picture isn't so far from what the Fraser looks like going through Vancouver.


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Set back levees for the LA River? Anyone have several hundred million to a few billion lying around as loose change to condemn all the necessary land?

Last I checked, the idea was to use rubber dams (not the kind found in your sex ed kit) to create "deep" water in places, plus get a ton of community support for river cleanup and changes in land use along the river.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Francis, I know set-back levees aren't really possible in places that are already developed.

A10:16, you're right. I should be more careful about distinguishing California, instead of the whole west. Surely the regulars know that I am so parochial that I only ever mean California.

Mark, Marina del Rey? Whatever. Its the Hudson or something.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan, that sounds like the system that is in place in Riverside, CA. The Santa Ana is a trickle most of the time, but when it floods, stand by. The feral pigs that live in the riparian zone don't seem to get washed out, though.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oooh. Now I'm picturing feral pigs swept away in floods. That's an odd image.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a famous bishop in Australia that once said "Don't pray for rain; dam it."

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The analogy, I think is to the river in Chicago, that has several bridges across it. There's a fairly famous shot of it.

In London, we stick the rivers underground. The same is true in Toronto, there are a couple of rivers running right through the town, but under the pavement.

On praying for rain, it beats admitting that you are screwing up the environment. When I despair for the human race, I think about the fact that there are people (in Australia, and Georgia) who can talk about the terrible drought, and pray for its end, and in the same breath say it would be too expensive/ not necessary to cap the CO2 emissions of the coal fired plants just down the road (Southern Company in Georgia is almost the largest CO2 emitter in the USA, and Australia gets 80-90% of its electric power from coal).

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should add. In Seoul, Korea, they replaced a road with the river that had formerly run underneath.

Everyone said it couldn't be done, but instead it has turned into a wonderful urban spot of calm and tranquility.

It looks a bit like this LA river.

Cheonggyecheon is Seoul's New Waterway - 8 km of pedestrianized river walkway in downtown Seoul, 21 bridges, old and new, running from City Hall to Dongdaemun Market. An ancient sewer once covered over with busy streets has been reopened in October 2005 to provide a relaxing stroll for present-day Seoulites. 5 minutes walk from Lotte Department Store at Euljiro 1 (il) ga Subway Station (Line 2).

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sailboat is wrong, too. With the sail like that, the wake would look different, and so would the surface of the river. Can't even look at the picture without getting crabby.

12:55 PM  

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