Los Angeles River Master Plan
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Project Objective

The Los Angeles River is one of Los Angeles County’s most valuable assets, primarily providing flood risk management for millions of County residents.

Since the early 20th Century, with repeated floods that cost Southern California dozens of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, infrastructure improvements have mainly focused on using the LA River for flood risk reduction. In 1996, the Los Angeles County Public Works developed its first LA River Master Plan (Master Plan), with the goal of identifying ways to improve the river to create community resources through aesthetic and recreational enhancement and environmental values.

In 2018, the County embarked on updating the 1996 Master Plan with the intent of considering the wealth of knowledge developed in the past 20 years and employing a regional approach. The master plan update is creating continuous, healthy, and equitable open space and promoting water stewardship while not compromising flood risk management.

Geosyntec’s Scope of Services

As prime consultant, Geosyntec is leading a team of world class subconsultants that includes OLIN for landscape architecture, urban design and planning; Gehry Partners for architecture and urban planning, various other planners, nonprofits, and public facilitators. As part of the Master Plan update, Geosyntec is reviewing existing hydrology, water quality, and peak flow management in the river, helping the County and its regional partners establish a process for determining beneficial uses in the and along the LA River, reviewing and updating hydrologic and hydraulic models and identifying flood management system capacity, existing deficiencies, and the physical condition of the river infrastructure. The team is also researching, summarizing, and detailing existing ecosystem and habitat conditions; open space, recreation, and trails; significant community programming, cultural venues/institutions, and art policies and installations; operations and maintenance conditions; access, security, and safety conditions; and demographics, public health, and social equity issues. Sustainability and resilience planning are central to the topics described, analyzing climate and shifting resources, and how they affect the future of the LA River. The team is investigating opportunities for utilizing the channel right-of-way and immediately adjacent properties to create 51 miles of connected and accessible open space; capture water in the channel for aquifer recharge; and offer opportunities to improve water quality.

The Master Plan Update will serve as a guidance document that unites the 51-mile LA River, providing multi-benefit solutions for managing flood risk as well as creating continuous, healthy, and equitable open space based on assessed conditions and stakeholder input. It unites regional scale planning with a strong implementation plan to tie proposals to clear funding paths through program-scale funding.

Project Summary

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Client: Los Angeles County Public Works
  • Project Practice Areas: Water and Wastewater
  • Type of Facility: River
  • Services Provided: Flood Risk Management, Integrated Water Resources, Sustainability and Resiliency Planning, Ecosystem Services, Access and Security, Community Programming, Operations and Maintenance Evaluation, Design and Urban Planning, Public Health and Social Equity, Displacement and Housing Stability, Community Engagement and Outreach, Steering Committee Facilitation
  • Type of Work: Water
  • Governing Regulation: State and Local