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7 debris basins undersized, need enlarging

December 11, 2009 12:33:15 AM PST
The hillsides were holding in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta after another night of rain, but the threat of mudslides in the Station Fire burn area continued.A new report out Friday detailing recovery from the Station Fire showed some of Los Angeles County's storm basins may be too small. Seven basins intended to protect homes from disaster are considered undersized and need to be expanded.

A $5 million project to boost the size of the basins was laid out in a Station Fire recovery report this week to the County Board of Supervisors from Director of Public Works Gail Farber. The basins in question are Big Briar, Mullally, Snover, Pickens, Starfall, Pinelawn and Rowley.

Crews already began expanding the basins by adding wall height or digging the basins deeper. However, officials said work on the expansions won't be completeed until next year, leaving some residents a bit nervous about the current rainy season.

"Right up above, because there's no vegetation now, it's going to just flow down, the mud and the ash," said Nancy Weyermuller, a La Canada Flintridge resident. "They're planning on making them bigger, but it takes a while to do that, so it's not going to help us this winter."

County crews spent weeks cleaning out 28 debris basins within the Station Fire burn areas. A hard rain last month caused substantial mud flows in La Cresenta and La Canada, which nearly filled many of those basins.

"They work very hard. They've had just dozens of trucks up there every hour trying to empty the basins," said Stan Manatt, a La Canada Flintridge resident.

Manatt said light rains don't worry him, but heavier storms are a different story.

"We get some real thunderstorms up here from time to time, where you get say an inch of rain in less than an hour. Then you've got a problem," said Manatt.

Throughout many La Canada and La Crescenta neighborhoods, K-rails, sandbags and plywood were put up to help divert any runoff away from homes.

Expansion of all the basins was expected to be finished by October 2010.


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