Huntington planners approve O.C. plan to improve flood control channel

Proposed improvements for a flood control channel in Huntington Beach that a decade ago prompted a local emergency were approved Tuesday night by the city Planning Commission.

Commissioners voted unanimously to allow the Orange County Flood Control District to make structural enhancements to the East Garden Grove Wintersburg channel, which carries runoff from cities including Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana.

The channel runs through Huntington Beach to the ocean, traversing the sensitive Bolsa Chica wetlands.

The county will helm the project, but it needed approval from the commission under state code.

Tuesday’s meeting featured little debate about the issue, as commissioners posed only a few questions to city staff, many of them to clarify construction specifics.

Planning aide Nicolle Bourgeois said construction would be between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. The county has not determined a start date.

The work will consist of installing sheet pile walls in the channel between Graham and Goldenwest streets.

The sheet pile walls will allow for the future removal of current earthen slopes that are subject to erosion. The changes are part of a larger structural upgrade to the channel.

Commissioner John Scandura said the county should agree on a notification radius for residents before construction because pile-driving “can be heard from quite a distance.”

In May, the county received approval from the commission to install a debris collection system in the flood channel to prevent trash from polluting the Bolsa Chica wetlands or the ocean.

Shannon Widor, spokesman for Orange County Public Works, said the channel is due for other improvements in the next few years, including reconstruction of part of it near Gothard Street.

The East Garden Grove Wintersburg channel is one of several earthen channels built in the 1950s.

In 2007, county supervisors declared a local emergency when a deteriorating levee in the Huntington Beach channel was feared to pose a flooding threat to hundreds of nearby homes. A $10-million repair project ensued.

Activists have said failure of the levees in a severe storm could cause significant damage to the Bolsa Chica wetlands.

benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

Twitter:@benbrazilpilot

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