Mark Gold, the president of Heal the Bay, recently blogged from Israel, where he was visiting as part of an L.A.-Tel Aviv environmental exchange. While there he took note of similarities between the L.A. River and Tel Aviv's Yarkon River, once a notoriously polluted body of water that became infamous a dozen years ago when a bridge collapsed into it. (An Australian athlete died from exposure to the Yarkon.)
"Both rivers run through major cities," Gold says, "both are sewage effluent-dominated in dry weather, and both bodies have been engineered to the point that restoration is impossible."
He muses on how similarly arid climes affect the turgid flow of both
rivers, which are largely used as cosmetic greenbelts adorned with bike
paths -- or as mere irrigation ditches. Here, though, one suspects that
the irrigation going on in thirsty Israel is more productive than that
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provided by the L.A. River. For years L.A. environmentalists have
proposed diverting more storm runoff from the river's concrete bed
toward the "smart irrigation" of adjacent parkland. Perhaps the Yarkon
holds more solutions for our abused river than we realize.