LA Prepares for Tricks & Treats this Season


October marks the beginning of the rainy season here in Los Angeles. It is also the time of year when we celebrate a culturally popular holiday – Halloween. As we enter the wet winter months ahead, Los Angeles faces some potentially frightening challenges. Will the El Niño conditions predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists create monstrous storms knocking at LA’s door? How will the devastation left behind by the destructive Station Fire impact the quality of urban runoff in our watersheds? How can bacteria – a hideously hidden pollutant in urban runoff – potentially impact the health of beach goers and marine life?

In this issue of LA Stormwater, we highlight these challenges with a Halloween twist. The articles will feature very real obstacles facing Los Angeles in the months to come, but as you’ll see, every challenge presents an opportunity for Los Angeles to continue in its role as an environmental leader.

In July, NOAA scientists announced the arrival of El Niño, the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters. It is a climate phenomenon with significant influence on global weather and ocean conditions. El Niño’s chilling characteristics have typically included menacing winter storms in the Southland, causing severe flooding, mudslides and compromised water quality from the witch’s brew of polluted urban runoff flowing through creeks, rivers and lakes to our local bays. Even so, regular rainfall is a welcome occurrence in our dry climate. We need water for our crops, our rivers and our soil. It is a vital component of our ecological health. However, too large of a dose all at once can cause serious ramifications to our local waterways, if we’re not prepared. Go to this article.

As the school year began in September, Los Angeles experienced the wicked Station Fire. Charring more than 250 square miles in LA County and the Angeles National Forest, this fiendish fire created a smoldering, barren moonscape that could have a devastating impact on water quality in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers’ watersheds. The rains may loosen sediment and rocks, send mudslides through foothill communities, and clog LA’s storm drain system. Go to this article.

During this season of ghosts and goblins, we are often scared by the monsters that we can see. But in urban runoff, it is an unseen pollutant that can cause the most harm. Bacteria are a hidden pollutant in urban runoff that can cause illnesses in beach goers and marine life alike. In this issue, we’ll explore the causes of bacterial pollution and the problems it can create in our waterways. Go to this article.

Despite the monstrous challenges facing us on this Hallows Eve, opportunities abound to meet and exceed these obstacles. Yes, an El Niño year presents LA with the threat of increased rainfall, but by adopting a few simple good housekeeping practices, homeowners can minimize El Niño’s impact. The damage created by the Station Fire has the potential to create mudslides and sediment flows, but Los Angeles crews are trained and prepared to meet this challenge. And, while bacteria remain a major pollutant of concern, Los Angeles continues to lead the way in developing programs and projects to combat this contaminant.

Enjoy this Halloween issue of LA Stormwater! I remain hopeful that the upcoming rainy season will be filled with more treats than tricks.


Shahram Kharaghani

Stormwater Program Manager


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