Headwaters to Groundwaters

Urban development is preventing natural recharge of groundwater

MRT completed an extensive study in 2008 that identified groundwater loss issues. The project is a study focusing on sustainability of the San Fernando Basin (SFB), an unconfined aquifer and significant source of water for residents of Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank. The SFB is 112,000 acres with an estimated capacity of 3,200,000 acre-feet of storage space for groundwater. The study analyzes current resources and issues, creates a relevant inventory report of water supplies and capacities and evaluates possible solutions. Determining the most suitable areas to recharge native waters will ultimately provide SFB management a better understanding of the natural environment’s role within and immediately surrounding the study area. The results will also provide strategic plans for the recharge project with intervention and change opportunities.

More than 600,000 people rely on water from the Upper Los Angeles River Area (ULARA). The water, largely contained in a huge underwater aquifer beneath the San Fernando Valley is replenished (or recharged) from rain and natural mountain or hill runoff. However, urban development is preventing natural recharge, and much of the valuable water resource is simply flowing down paved streets, mixing with urban pollutants and draining directly into the ocean.

The area is becoming more dependent upon water imported from northern California, an area already being depleted from over usage, causing concern for environmental management organizations and state and local government officials.

On-Going Research

Characterization, Evaluation and Control of Invasive Species in the Malibu Creek Watershed

Invasive species, such as this crayfish, outcompete native species for resources

MRT is working with Pepperdine University and UCLA to understand how non-native species are affecting stream biology.   Over the last 60 years, crayfish and other aquatic nonnative invertebrates, such as New Zealand mud snail (NZMS) have become established throughout the watersheds of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Field observations suggest that the non-native species outcompete native species for resources.  Benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities may be compromised by the spread of non-native species.  BMI communities are highly sensitive to changes in temperature, dissolved oxygen, sedimentation, and water chemistry of the stream and it may be that the proliferation of non-native species are affecting the characteristics of a stream so drastically that BMI communities cannot withstand the changes.  Researchers will survey the streams in the Malibu Creek Watershed for BMI communities to determine how the streams have been altered by non-native species.

Organizations that conduct research in Cold Creek: Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Bay Commission, NPS, UCLA, and Pepperdine.