Restoration of Arroyo Seco watershed gets boost from MWD Community Partnering program

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California today presented $20,000 to a community-oriented institute that aims to make Arroyo Seco a test case for river renewal.

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 19, 2001 — Amid the scenic backdrop of the Arroyo Seco, Metropolitan Water District today reaffirmed its support for the restoration of Southern California watersheds by presenting $20,000 to a community-oriented institute that aims to make the arroyo a test case for river renewal.

Presenting an MWD Community Partnering Program check to Robert Gottlieb, director of Occidental College's Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, was Assemblymember Carol Liu (D-La Canada-Flintridge) and Metropolitan Director Timothy F. Brick.

"Watersheds are more than just wildlife habitat or recreational space. They're also a source of drinking water," said Liu, a groundwater advocate who this year authored successful legislation mandating a statewide groundwater quality survey.

Restoring the watershed can improve the quality of water that percolates underground, enhancing the ability to store high-quality supplies that can be called upon during a drought, she said.

The flood-control channel that forms the Arroyo Seco's lower segment gives way to a vista of "purple mountains and soaring bridges," said Brick, addressing an audience at the landmark Casita del Arroyo. "Every New Year's Day, it's Southern California's face to the world."

The city of Pasadena's representative on the MWD board since 1985, Brick is considered one of the Arroyo Seco's strongest advocates.

Brick, who serves on the Arroyo Seco Foundation, which recently completed a study on restoring the watershed, extolled the scenic and environmental virtues of the waterway that courses 21 miles from the San Gabriel Mountains to the juncture of the Los Angeles River near Mount Washington.

The competitive MWD Community Partnering Program grant to UEPI's "Rethinking the Watershed" program will deal with such issues as water quality and enhancing open space along arroyo portions that were encased in concrete in 1938.

Today's presentation marked the second CPP grant awarded to the institute. Last year's partnering award helped support a year-long series of forums on restoring the Los Angeles River. A portion of the latest grant will help underwrite a Web site and book on those experiences.

Gottlieb said the institute plans to use notes from explorers as well as historical maps and photographs to create a pictorial timeline for what the arroyo looked like over the past 100 to 200 years.

When it comes to reviving the region's network of rivers and streams, "Metropolitan has some very important roles to play," Gottlieb said. "MWD can package it all together. It has the capacity to be the regional player that also connects with people on the ground in local communities."

Brick said that Metropolitan has increasingly embraced strategies that were being advocated by the environmental community, such as water conservation, water recycling and mutually beneficial transfers of water from agricultural to urban areas.

"People talk about a 'greening' of rivers, but there has also been a 'greening' of Metropolitan," Brick said. This year, Metropolitan will distribute more than $450,000 in grants and in-kind services to programs throughout Southern California that demonstrate a value-added benefit to MWD and its 26 member public agencies.

Under the CPP, sponsorships are provided for water-related activities such as public forums, educational and research programs, exhibits and other community-based events. Memberships in national, state, regional and local associations that support MWD's corporate and mission statements also are eligible, as well as educational mini-grants and innovative conservation programs.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 17 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.

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