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Looking Back at 25 Years... with photos! | A Quarter Century of Connecting the Drops

The Council for Watershed Health thanks all who celebrated A Quarter Century of Connecting the Drops with us! It was a lovely evening under the stars and city lights of downtown Los Angeles. We were thrilled to commemorate 25+ years of collaboration, impact and the accomplishments of our honorees among old and new friends who share our vision for a resilient water future.

This milestone (and the rest!) would not have been possible without the lasting support and guidance of you all. Please enjoy this blog post, a blast from the past, as we recap our major accomplishments over the last 25 years and take a look back at a collection of the people and moments who have been part of CWH's journey toward healthier regional watersheds and communities. Cheers to many more years of progress and working together! We intend to make this a living blog and plan to make additions as time allows. Enjoy!

Looking Back at 25 Years of CWH history...

  • 1996 - The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council is founded by Dorothy Green and collaborators. After holding monthly informal, informational meetings, which served as educational forums and opportunities for relationship building, the decision to form a non-profit organization was made. Published Vision 2025 - An Integrated Vision for the Future and our first Watershed Wise quarterly newsletter.

  • 1999 - Published Storm Water: Asset Not Liability, by Suzanne Dallman and Tom Piechota exploring alternative ways to manage stormwater. Rented our first office space at LADWP headquarters and hired Rumi Yanakiev. Congratulations to Rumi on 23 years with the Council!

  • 2000 - Convened a workgroup of representatives from federal, state, and local agencies to discuss the potential benefits and barriers to using stormwater runoff for water quality which became the Water Augmentation Study Technical Advisory Committee (WAS TAC).

  • 2001 - Our 5th Year Anniversary! Published The Beneficial Uses of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, by Heather Trim, which demystified the Clean Water Act and provided useful information on rivers and their tributaries. Initiated the Water Augmentation Study with the US Bureau of Reclamation and eight other agencies, a major study to quantify how much we can augment our drinking water supply by retaining all small rainstorms on site, which became foundational to the green infrastructure work many of us do today.

  • 2002 - Received grant funding for a staff cartographer and hired Jason “Cas” Casanova. This is Cas’ 20th year with the Council! Developed and later implemented the Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan. Created several internal committees and programs that have shaped the present structure and functions of the Council. Established a partnership with the Sanitation Districts of LA County, SCCWRP, and other agencies to develop a watershed-wide water quality monitoring program for the San Gabriel River.

  • 2003 - Moved offices from LADWP to MWD.

  • 2004 - Provided a variety of GIS and mapping services, including notable compilation of an Arundo database for the Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP). Finalized LA River Master Plan Landscaping Guidelines and Plant Palette, approved by LA County Board of Supervisors.

  • 2005 - Held Sustainable Landscape Design Seminars. Completed Plant Profiler, an online database of native plants and care instructions. Served as members of three sub-regional steering committees for the IRWM Plan for greater LA region.

  • 2006 - Celebrated 10th Anniversary. Led cooperative effort to develop watershed wide monitoring program for LA River. Initiated Weed Watch Program, mapping invasive plants, producing educational materials. Identified and mapped indigenous plant populations for future seed collection. Enhanced communication among interested parties via Watershed Symposium series paired with quarterly WatershedWise.

  • 2007 - Initiated design and construction of Elmer Avenue, a collaboration among agencies, non-profit organizations, design professionals, technical experts, and the community to reduce flooding, improve water quality of runoff, increase local groundwater supplies, community green space and biodiversity by capturing, cleaning and infiltrating stormwater runoff in subsurface infiltration galleries; bioswales in the public right of way; and with rain barrels, trees, permeable pavement, and rain gardens in front yards.

  • 2010 - Celebrated the completion of Elmer Avenue with more than 20 project partners representing federal, state, regional, and local agencies; non-profit organizations; landscape architecture and engineering firms, elected officials, and community members!

  • 2011 - Adopted the new name Council for Watershed Health that reflects the evolution of the organization beyond a particular geographic focus towards a more proactive role in creating a healthier region. By remaining a Council, we acknowledge the valuable role collaboration plays in pursuit of our vision. Celebrated 15 years!

  • 2012 - Completed construction of Elmer Paseo, which transformed a deteriorated alleyway using a nature-based solutions approach to create a neighborhood green space that captures, cleans, and infiltrates dry and wet weather runoff; reduces flooding; increases water quality, increases habitat, and provides safer passage for residents. Hosted Landscaping Lightly Workshop and published the first Landscaping Lightly Calendar. Initiated the LAUSD Tree Canopy Study, informing the prioritization of urban forestry efforts at LAUSD campuses.

  • 2013 - Convened first State of the LA River Watershed Symposium, presented five years of monitoring data and analysis resulting from managing the LA. River Watershed Monitoring Program.

  • 2014 - Received grant from SWRCB for the Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS) Stormwater Technical Assistance, resulting in $13M in project funding awarded to underserved schools throughout the state. Implemented partnership to monitor pre/post construction, train teachers, and engage students at five LAUSD campuses that received SWRCB DROPS funding for green infrastructure and curriculum connections projects.

  • 2016 - Hosted 20th Anniversary and awarded LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl the first Dorothy Green Award. Awarded grant agreement with SWRCB to provide Proposition 1 Stormwater Technical Assistance to underserved, small municipalities throughout the State, later resulting in $23M+ in project funding. Initiated a technical assistance effort to provide resources and develop a mentor-mentee model to build the capacity of local community-based organizations to participate, become proponents and water leaders, and secure funding for multi-benefit green infrastructure and Nature-Based Solutions projects - recently named Redesign LA.