Rethinking LA’s flood control systems to store water

To the editor: Though much attention is given to water retention during rainstorms, little is said about repurposing our enormous flood control dams and huge areas behind them to store and percolate water down into the water table. (“Imagining how a wilder LA and its rivers would have handled this rain,” Opinion, Jan. 14)

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley during the 1950s, I recall what the area around the Hansen Dam used to be like. It had a lake with a beach and even boats.

When it comes to water retention, many complain that oil and other chemicals from cars make for polluted water. However, as we move toward electric vehicles over the next few decades, that problem should diminish.

It’s time to plan ahead and use the flood-control dams built around Los Angeles last century differently.

Cary Adams, North Hollywood

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To the editor: “Entombing” the Los Angeles River protected us from the destruction of great floods, but it denatured the river and diverted water seaward. Density is a similarly chimerical idea.

The last open space in Studio City may soon be stripped of its mature trees and grass and be upholstered with a toxic, heat-absorbent, artificial-turfed track and field, pool and gymnasium in a sports center for a private school that already has a track, field, gym and pool nearby.

This project is being packaged as vastly superior in every way to the existing public golf and tennis facility, just as densification is sold as a utopian fix to every civic and natural problem.

The density fantasy has replaced neighborhoods of canopied, modest and affordable homes with rows of multimillion-dollar McMansions on heat islands. High (and getting higher) rent and condo towers sit where modest, affordable apartments and duplexes used to be.

That these “improvements” have produced gentrification, displacement and homelessness reminds us to be careful about fixing things.

Jo Perry, Studio City

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To the editor: During these torrental downpours, it occurs to me that one year out of every three or four, we get really heavy rains and snow in California. These storms build the mountain snowpack, which eventually melts and fills the reservoirs.

But we need to do more.

Ancient civilizations in dry climates filled giant underground cisterns during the rainy seasons. They lived off this stored supply during the dry times.

We should prioritize and build more water storage infrastructure in California. Our future depends on it.

David Schechter, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Aside from millions of gallons of water being needlessly flushed to the ocean, what about the fertile topsoil being lost as well?

Toby Horn, Los Angeles

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