Background:

The Los Angeles River Watershed is an ecologically and economically vital expanse covering over 800 square miles of Southern California that is home to approximately nine million people. The Los Angeles River, at the heart of the Watershed, stretches from headwaters in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach. It is vastly important to both human activities and as wildlife habitat–indeed, the River itself is integral to the environmental, social, and economic functions of the region. Monitoring and maintaining the health of the River, and, on a grander scale, that of the Los Angeles River Watershed as a whole, is thus of great consequence. Communicating the state of environmental and other conditions in the Watershed can help inform policy decisions and ensure that these functions are protected.

Our project:

Our project is focused on developing a framework for an environmental report card for the Los Angeles River Watershed. Working closely with the Council for Watershed Health, a nonprofit organization involved in the sustainable management and restoration of both the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watersheds, our team will develop a set of environmental indicators that provide a holistic overview of the Watershed’s health, and that capture social and economic conditions in addition to biophysical ones. We will then use a select few of these indicators to serve as case studies for analysis, including collecting relevant data and aggregating that data into a grade based on specified metrics and criteria. Ultimately, it is our hope that the final product of this Practicum project will serve as a foundation to assess the Los Angeles River Watershed as a whole in a way that can engage the public and drive action to maintain and restore the environmental health of the region.

quantifying watershed health for the los angeles river

Students: Jasneet Goraya, Ming Gao, Zhuolin Hu, Bryce Lee, Daniela Palma

Advisor: Noah Garrison

Client: Council for Watershed Health