LA County's Debris Basins vs. El Niño Storms

If you ask Jackie Ayvazian if she's concerned about El Niño storms she'll be the first to tell you she's not. And, she doesn't like the concrete K-Rails the City of Glendora has put on her street. County officials say, like a flood channel, the k-rails are there to aim mud and muck in one direction. To Ayvazian, "In the grand scale of everyday life they have been more of a hinderance than a help."

Ironically, though, she's been in the cross hairs of a mudflow. Just last year, the week before Thanksgiving, mud came pouring down her street from the hills. "It was a big mess," she says. "It was bad."

It was bad because the Colby fire scorched the hillsides and, the next thing you knew there were rains and mudflows. She says her "street was just flooded with mud."

Just up the hill from Jackie's house are a pair of debris basins. The largest can hold 30,000 cubic yards of muck. LA County Department of Public Works official Steve Sheridan says if you figure a cubic yard is the size of a washing machine the basin can and has held over 30,000 of them when full. So, you can imagine the debris that could and has filled the basin.

The bottom line is that the County believes the basins are up to handling El Niño storms. The concern is that if there are lots of back to back storms and not much in the way of breaks for the mud to be dried and cleared away there could be more mudflows like what happened last year on Jackie Ayvazian's street.

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