EPA Declares Los Angeles River a "Navigable Waterway"

From this story in the LA Times:
_U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday declared the entire concrete-lined Los Angeles River channel "traditional navigable waters," a designation crucial to applying Clean Water Act protections throughout its 834-square-mile urban watershed. "We're moving away from the concrete," Jackson told more than 200 residents and government officials on the banks of one of the river's heavily polluted tributaries, Compton Creek. "This is a watershed as important as any other," she said. "So we are going to build a federal partnership to empower communities like yours. We want the L.A. River to demonstrate how urban waterways across the country can serve as assets in building stronger neighborhoods, attracting new businesses and creating new jobs."

__The decision may seem odd to people who know the L.A. River as a flood-control channel of treated water a few inches deep flowing between massive, graffiti-marred concrete banks strewn with rotting garbage and broken glass, and occasionally polluted with chemicals illegally dumped in storm drains and gutters that empty into it. Jackson said the EPA considered factors beyond whether the river's flow and depth can support navigation from its origins at the confluence of the Arroyo Calabasas and Bell Creek in the San Fernando Valley all the way to San Pedro Bay, a distance of about 51 miles. Among other considerations, EPA officials said, were recreational and commercial opportunities, public access, susceptibility to restoration, and the presence of ongoing restoration and educational projects.

_While the connection between a polluted concrete channel and anglers may not be immediately obvious, this is good news for the future of fishing (and maybe bad news for future movie car chases). Why? Because like it or not, we're a largely urban and suburban society and our fishing habits are increasingly reflecting that reality. There are legion websites and blogs devoted to urban fishing in decidedly untraditional and/or industrial waters, waters that for decades have served as trash collectors and open-air sewage dumps. Even our own Tim Romano has written about his fondness for urban carping. Are these places pristine, A-list destinations? No, but many of us don't have A-list incomes and so we have to take our fishing where we can get it. And anything we can do to improve these waters for us and future generations is a good thing.