Stormwater home page City of Los Angeles home page
      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation
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The "First Flush" – refers to the season’s first rainstorm following many months of dry weather (usually between the months of April through October) that in essence, "flushes" out the debris which has accumulated inside of the storm drain system. This accumulation is the combined effects of littering, illegal dumping, windblown trash and a wide array of toxic liquids and chemicals (such as from automotive leaks) coming from a population of nearly 4 million people.
Catering Truck Debris – Patrons from a mobile food truck dump Styrofoam containers and food waste into a curbside catch basin. Click on the photo for more images.
Oily discharge from an unknown source enters a storm drain line. Stormwater inspectors will attempt to trace the source upstream using maps.
A series of street corner catch basins in downtown Los Angeles show why certain areas in the city were given a higher priority for installing catch basin screens than others.
Iron grates along the Ballona Creek channel walls that were designed to filter out large debris, become clogged with plastic bags and trash.

In heavy rainfall, these screens weighing several hundred pounds, can burst open from the accumulated backup flow created by the trapped trash, that eventually discharges into Santa Monica Bay.

An oil sheen is visible on the Los Angeles River near Taylor Yard. Stormwater inspectors traced the source to an automotive service yard several miles upstream.
Interior view of a clogged storm drain line. This photo was taken via remote control camera and reveals a high frequency rate of illegal dumping coming from the neighborhood.
With oceans waves crashing in the background, a division staff member samples water quality from a shoreline storm drain outlet just after a rainstorm.
Runoff from the Skid Row area of downtown, coming out of the 8th Street Storm Drain line. This runoff drains into the Los Angeles River.
Wider shot of the 8th Street Storm Drain line.
The 6th Street bridge is in the background.
The underground portion of the storm drain system. Some of these subterranean tunnels are large enough to drive a Chevy Suburban vehicle through.
A typical beach outfall. There are approximately 63 outfalls of varying sizes all along the Santa Monica Bay.
Accumulated paint and other chemicals that are exposed to the elements pose a significant threat to water quality whenever it rains. Rainwater can seep through open containers, causing the toxic contents to overflow out and onto the lawn, into the gutter, then flow into the storm drain system.
Construction of the storm drain system.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation was still dumping garbage into the Los Angeles River as late as the 1930’s.
Los Angeles residents survey damages to their homes and neighborhoods from the flood of 1938.
The Army Corps of Engineers were rushing to get the storm drain system built before the next storm season. This photo taken at what is now Hauser Street and Ballona Creek, shows flood waters wreaking havoc on the still in progress efforts.
View of damaged railroad tracks that cross the Arroyo Seco River in the Highland Park area taken just after the Flood of 1938.
Another view of the Arroyo Seco River in March of 1938.
Petroleum delivery driver trying to make his rounds in the Ballona Creek area in March of 1938.
This photo, also taken in 1938 around the Ballona Creek, shows why building a flood control channel in the area was necessary.
Officials assess the damage from a sinkhole in this photo taken on March 2, 1938, in the middle of a 3-day deluge.
Compton area residents getting via rowboat after the Flood of 1938.
Army Corp of Engineer inspects a newly built storm drain tunnel in the Culver City area in 1952.
A chart showing heavy rainfall events from 1859 to 1969.
Thousands of workers were employed in the building of the storm drain/flood control system. This photo shows work crews shoring up Ballona Creek.
Massive population growth after the post-World War II years contributed to the rapid urbanization of Los Angeles.
View of the Los Angeles River from Elysian Park in 1900. Alfafa, vegetable and a variety of fruit farms line both sides of the river as the San Rafael Hills (Mount Washington area) and the San Gabriel Mountains rise in the background.

Photo courtesy of the University of California Library.

8th Street storm drain discharge point into the Los Angeles River. This storm drain collects the surface area of approximately *** acres. Much of the area is comprised of the food and produce industry as well as from a large homeless population in downtown Los Angeles.

This area has been targeted for the installation of a Low Flow Diversion and is expected to be operational by

Stormwater pollution comes from a wide array of sources. Most common is trash blown or hosed off of parking lots
The downtown ‘Skidrow’ area of Los Angeles is a high trash generation source of stormwater pollution. The Stormwater Program has aggressively targeted many areas within that sector with catch basin screens and other trash control measures.
Catch basins are used as trash receptacles in the downtown area where there is a significant homeless population.
Trash iIllegally dumped in an alley.
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