Los Angeles River Flows Project

Background

The Water Boards are promoting water reuse and recycling to conserve the state’s water resources. Reuse and recycling of treated wastewater can result in a reduction of instream flow. Wastewater dischargers that want to reduce stream flow for reuse and recycling must obtain approval from the State Water Board prior to reducing wastewater discharges. A key step toward obtaining approval is to demonstrate that the reduced discharge will not substantially affect fish, wildlife, or other public trust resources (resources for the benefit of the public, such as recreation). As a result, the Water Boards are currently supporting the development of technical tools and approaches that define ecologically protective flows necessary to support specific species and habitats and the flows necessary to sustain specific beneficial uses.

The need to better understand and establish flow requirements has come to the forefront along the Los Angeles (LA) River. The State Water Board and the Los Angeles Water Board, in cooperation with local municipalities (including City of LA Bureau of Sanitation, City of LA Department of Water and Power, LA County Department of Public Works, and LA County Sanitation Districts), have initiated the Los Angeles River Flows Project (Project) to better evaluate the cumulative impacts of potential flow reductions. The Project will provide a science-based approach for assessing flow necessary to sustain beneficial uses. The desired outcome of the Project is to establish technically sound flow recommendations and an evaluation of the consequences of alternative flow scenarios for the LA River. This Project may also serve as a model for assessing similar situations in other river systems. It is anticipated that the Project will take two years to complete.

Los Angeles River Watershed Map, shaped like a tornado

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has more information on the background and history of the Los Angeles River Watershed.  

The California Environmental Flows Workgroup, as part of the California Water Quality Monitoring Council, is a multi-agency forum for engagement on environmental flows.

Project Timeline

SWG = Stakeholder Working Group

Activity

2018
Q4

2019
Q1

2019
Q2

2019
Q3

2019
Q4

2020
Q1

2020
Q2

2020
Q3

2020
Q4

1 - Stakeholder coordination

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2 - Non-aquatic Life Use Assessment

X

SWG 1

X

3 - Aquatic Life Beneficial Use Assessment

X

X

X

SWG 2

 

4 - Apply Environmental Flows & Evaluate Scenarios

X

X

X

X

SWG 3

X

SWG 4

5 - Monitoring & Adaptive Management Plan

X

X

6 - Summary of results & Reporting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

7 - Water Quality Assessment

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

For more information on the Project goals and scope, see the LA River Information Page.

Project Updates

LA River Flows Project: Progress Report, July 5, 2019
LA River Flows Project: Augmentation to Scope and Budget
LA River Flows Project: Scope and Budget

Meetings & Presentations

Stakeholder Working Group Meeting 1
March 22, 2019
Agenda
Draft Charter
Meeting Notes

State Water Board Meeting: Instream Flow Needs, Informational Item
November 8, 2017
Agenda
Item Description (Item 7)
Link to City of Los Angeles Projects that May Affect Los Angeles River Flows

Contact

More Information:
For additional information on the LA River Flows Project, please contact Lori Webber by email (Lori.Webber@waterboards.ca.gov) or by phone (916) 341-5736.

Partner Organizations:

SCCWRP logo
Council for Watershed Health logo
Colorado School of Mines logo