There was a time when the Los Angeles River ran freely along a flooded plain, and the lands surrounding it were lush and fertile. It was the primary water source for the Los Angeles basin, the reason our city was able to grow and thrive.
Now, as you all know, the river is barricaded by concrete, stifled by pollution, and surrounded by skyscrapers, highways, and traffic. It doesn't have to be this way.
Today marks a historic step in our efforts to return the LA River to its former glory. It was my honor to be with Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to announce that the EPA now views the river as a national resource.
At Compton Creek, a major tributary of the LA River, Administrator Jackson said the EPA now considers the LA River a traditionally-navigable waterway. This means the river now qualifies for the same federal protection and federal funding as other significant American rivers.
This sea change will allow us to reclaim LA's natural beauty, and create verdant, open spaces throughout our urban landscape. Working with community partners and the federal government, we can make the LA river a place where Angelenos hike, picnic, swim, and fish together.
The river can once again connect us to our natural surroundings. And just as importantly, it can connect us to our history and our future.