The mouth of the river begins in the foothills of Simi Valley in the base of the Santa Susana Mountain Range, at the confluence of Bell Creek and Arroyo Calabasas. Although it starts off small, it receives multiple watersheds along its length that make its width sizeable and its flow brisk. Hikers in the Santa Monica mountains may sometimes see small streams or creeks. Chances are they will eventually join the route of the L.A. river along with many others (although many have also run dry due to years of drought). It then makes its way through the Angeles National Forest, down through Burbank, alongside Griffith Park, and finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean all the way in Long Beach.
At one point, the extensive L.A. river was the main water source for the entire city. However, as the metropolitan area grew in size, it needed more and more water supplied for regular consumption and for the thirsty agricultural industry in need of H20 for raising animals and crops. Even as precipitation decreased and pollution of the river increased, the demand for water grew higher and eventually local government had to turn to other water sources and construct aqueducts from larger watersheds to meet the needs of a growing population. In addition, the river at times was a serious flooding hazard, which led to it being re-routed to a fixed manmade course that featured concrete beds.
The concrete riverbeds help to conserve water in especially dry spells by preventing water from being absorbed into the earth. However, in turn, this destroyed much of the once-beautiful natural river ecosystems. Environmentalists encourage restoring the riverbeds to their original state to foster the return of wildlife to rebuild these ecosystems. There are even plans in the city’s future to implement parks along the riverbeds, so Angelenos can enjoy and appreciate where their water came from, and help to protect an essential part of the city’s history.