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Public Statements

The San Gabriel Watershed Restoration Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. CHU. I rise today to introduce the San Gabriel Watershed Restoration Act of 2013. This bill could revitalize a California urban river by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a study analyzing the current state of the San Gabriel River Watershed and how it can be transformed into a destination for Los Angeles County.

We have such incredible resources right in our backyard in the San Gabriel Valley, and at the heart is the San Gabriel River. That is why we must do all that we can to revitalize and protect this space.

My communities are desperate for more open space to run, play, and explore. The L.A. area is one of the most park poor in the country. The San Gabriel River, only steps from our homes, used to be a green, lush paradise. The local Gabrielino tribespeople used to canoe down its waters out to the sea, but today, in its current state, it feels more like an abandoned waterway than the majestic river it once was. There are so few places for families to sit and enjoy or to swim in its cool waters on unbearably hot summer days in the urban valley cities.

The San Gabriel River also performs essential flood protection, drinking water recharge, and storm water conservation functions. But it is inaccessible to local residents for recreation and lacks many natural and riparian ecosystems. Additional provisions for flood control and water quality control are also sorely needed.

Increasingly, residents have expressed the desire to rediscover the river and offer more of its benefits to all the communities along its route. That's why I introduced this bill in the 111th Congress to study how we can improve the river and expand its use, and that is why I'm introducing this bill again.

The study created in this bill would look at the best ways to revitalize the watershed, focusing on ecosystem restoration, outdoor recreation enhancements, and ways to conserve rainwater and keep our water clean. This vital project is a first step--that is long overdue--toward creating more outdoor space within the highly urbanized watershed communities so that people can enjoy this beautiful resource in a safe and sustainable way.

A similar study and demonstration project were critical steps in the effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River, and it was so successful that now there are regular kayaking trips on the L.A. River, a place many thought of as only a concrete wasteland. People can actually enjoy this little bit of nature again. This is a powerful testament to the potential and growing success of river revitalization efforts.

My communities have a vision: to create an Emerald Necklace, a 17-mile loop of multi-benefit parks connecting 10 cities along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers. This bill is a critical part of realizing this dream, and I call on my colleagues in Congress to support this bill and help make their vision a reality for generations to come.


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