Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lawsuit over Native land, water, JPL, L.A.

Kevin Uhrich (, July 23, 2015); Xochitl (, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Arroyo Seco Foundation (
Arroyo Seco ("Dry Gulch") Stream to the LA River during rains (
"Devil's Gate" Dam reservoir contaminated by JPL, Hahamongna Park (Wisdom Quarterly)

Hahamongna is above the world famous Rose Bowl/Brookside Park, just below JPL (wiki)
Flowing Waters, Many Questions
Lawsuit asks court to stop Arroyo Seco Canyon project over water contamination concerns
Tim Martinez (center top) of the Arroyo Seco Foundation leads a nature walk.

Tongva and fairy nymph (Ed S. Curtis/WQ)
On the first day of June, the Pasadena City Council gave the green light to a two-year, $4.5 million project that is expected to capture and store more fresh water than ever, restore aquatic and riparian habitats, increase trail access and create passive recreational opportunities along the Arroyo Seco Stream that flows through Hahamongna Watershed Park. In the language of the region’s Tongva-GabrieleƱo Native American settlers, Hahamongna means “Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley.”

The Arroyo Seco Canyon Project is the result of a partnership between the Pasadena Water and Power Department (PWP) and the Arroyo Seco Foundation (ASF). It is being bankrolled in large part with grant money provided by the California Integrated Regional Water Management Program, with the remainder of the funds provided by PWP.

Arroyo Seco Foundation leads demonstration atop dam below JPL: NO to "Big Dig"!
Joplin cover (
Initial conceptual design, which includes plans for constructing a lavatory on the site, removing the stream’s headworks facility, restoring water intake outlets, increasing the size of the water spreading grounds at the top of Hahamongna, and reducing the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) parking lot from 1,100 to 100 spaces, was performed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation, which secured a $3.3 million in Proposition 84 grant funds to help pay for the changes.

Los Angeles trout (
One month and a day after the council gave its approval the project came under fire with the filing of a lawsuit alleging it will not make the area’s water supplies any safer or more drinkable. Indeed, rain and stream water seeping into underground water basins near Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will mix with water that has been contaminated for many years, with neighboring JPL designated as an EPA Superfund toxic waste site, a fact sparsely mentioned in any of the environmental documents submitted to the council regarding the project.

LA River runs from foothills to Santa Monica
According to the lawsuit filed July 2 in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the Spirit of the Sage Council, a Pasadena nonprofit grassroots coalition of environmental organizations working to protect native plants and animals and sacred lands, and Project Soliton, a nonprofit public benefit organization that seeks to empower citizens on environmental and human and civil rights issues, the project was approved by the council based on a mitigated negative declaration (MND) stating impacts posed by the concoction of poisons dumped into the site over the past several decades are being addressed and can be overcome.

“The area adjacent to JPL and south is a Superfund site,” said Leeona Klippstein of the Spirt of the Sage Council. “The EPA designated it in 1992 and they did so because the city had actually contacted them about contaminated water. It took many years before JPL actually started cleaning up the water. It’s been known for a long time that the water is contaminated, as well as that whole area.”

Stop Everything
Arroyo Seco Foundation leads demonstration atop dam below JPL: NO to "Big Dig"!
JPL on Tongva territory (
Council approval came in its decision to formally strike down an appeal filed by Klippstein’s group and activist Hugh Bowles to a Board of Zoning Appeals decision to grant the Water and Power Department a conditional use permit (CUP), allowing repair or replacement of facilities within the Arroyo Seco Canyon area, including those damaged or destroyed by the Station Fire in 2009.

Although the council was made aware that problems with hazardous materials and other issues --noise, transportation, biological resources and recreation -- were cited in an earlier environmental study of the area, it approved the MND for the project. That declaration determined that “with the incorporation of mitigation measures, these impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels,” states the council agenda for its June 1 meeting. “Impacts to all other study areas were found to be less than significant” at the project locations at 3420, 3500, 4401, and 4500 Arroyo Seco Road.

Native Foods and practices survive (ASF)
However, the Spirit of the Sage Council lawsuit states, “Among other notable omissions in the description of the environmental setting in the initial study/MND was the fact that a portion of the project is located on and adjacent to an EPA listed toxic Superfund site, and a California listed ‘Cortese’ site that is subject to an EPA cleanup and remediation order pursuant to CERCLA (the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act).”

JPL is included on the 575-entry Cortese List of contaminated sites around California, or the Hazardous Waste and Substances Sites List, also known as a California Superfund site. As of this week, JPL was still listed as an “active” Superfund site. More

No comments: