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LA River Flood Control Project Put in Jeopardy Just as Huge El Niño Storm Hits

With the flooding and river-like conditions created on Los Angeles streets by just a day of steady rain this week, it's easy to imagine how a whole winter of El Niño storms could really do some damage to Los Angeles. The city hasn't delayed on planning for seriously wet weather, but LA County jut found out that some of the federal money it had anticipated receiving to help get the river ready to weather a watery winter hasn't come through yet. The LA Times reports that some important federal funding that would clean up and help control flooding in a section of the river that stretches "between its Burbank western channel and the 2 Freeway" has yet to materialize, and the delay is only coming to light now, in the middle of a string of very rainy days.

Yesterday, LA County Department of Public Works staff told county supervisors that they'd only just discovered that the Army Corps of Engineers was still waiting on $4.5 million in funds that was supposed to go toward cleaning up the LA River and controlling flooding in the Burbank-to-Northeast LA section. That might not sound so bad, but it could be, say supervisors—Supes Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis wrote, "Without this maintenance, this portion of the Los Angeles River will only provide a low level of flood protection, which is especially critical under the current El Niño conditions."

Public Works staff said they only learned of the funding issue the day before yesterday, and timing is particularly bad. "Right now, we're playing catch-up in the middle of a storm," says Supervisor Michael Antonovich. The supes voted to send a letter to the US Congress and to the assistant secretary of the Army asking for the funding to be sent immediately, but there's stiff competition for the money, as LA is up against places like Missouri and Texas that are already flooding. Meanwhile, "about half a million dollars that would have gone to other maintenance projects" has been moved to start clearing the most pressing sections of the LA River.
· Funding for Los Angeles River cleanup in doubt as El Niño begins [LAT]
· How LA is Prepping to Take This Winter's Monster El Niño [Curbed LA]