Debris basins holding strong

Photo by Mark SHELTON The local debris basins held strong during the December rains.


Through torrential rains and apocalyptic fires, the hillsides of La Crescenta and La Cañada, as well as the residents who call them home, remain. After numerous storms and the Station Fire, last week’s spells of rain seemed barely notable in comparison. Flash flood and evacuation warnings were generated, but were soon lifted after the rain appeared lighter at just over a foot than previously projected.

However, the risk of mudslides still remains. Not only is there mud to contend with, but rocks, some of them boulders “the size of Volkswagens,” according to C.A.R.E. (Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort) Public Affairs Manager Kerjon Lee.

“We try to tell the residents to be aware of sounds of movement such as the snapping of twigs and trees,” Lee said.

The Station Fire also did its part in increasing the risk of mudslides by stripping the hills of vegetation, which can act to halt mudflow.

But through all of this, the Mullally debris basin, which sits atop of the hills of La Cañada-Flintridge on Manistee Drive, has done its part in protecting the hillsides. After the February 2010 storms in which the Mullally basin overflowed due to being clogged by a large boulder, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works began an enlargement effort which nearly doubled the
capacity of the basin. Reinforcements of concrete walls and K-rails were also made along Manistee Drive.

While mudslides will always be a concern whenever rain comes, the additions to the basin have been beneficial.

“Mullally is at about 20% capacity,” said Lee. That would average out to around 3,500 cubic yards, more than a third of Mullally’s original capacity.

A cleanup of the Mullally basin began on Monday, Dec. 27 following the rains that occurred the prior week. The clean out is expected to last a week, although some light rain midweek may postpone the end date to some extent.

The mud, rocks and other debris will be transported from Mullally to the Dunsmuir Sediment Placement Site via trucks.

“There haven’t been any complications,” said Lee, regarding the cleanup so far. “In this latest series of storms, we’ve experienced the efficiency of the debris basins.”

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