The rain this Christmas week was less than expected but enough to shut down major streets, North Palm Canyon Drive and Cathedral Canyon were closed due to floods but these streets have commonality, the streets cross through the Whitewater River channel a stream of water that prevents further floods in the desert.
The Coachella Valley Water District is the agency in charge of funneling the stormwater into the Whitewater River channel. The communications director for CVWD, Katie Evans said each city has its own drainage system but a lot of the water from the rain ends up in the more than 50-mile long stream and into the Salton Sea.
“These mountain ranges all around us are very steep so even a little bit of rain on the mountain, even if it’s dry here, that will flow down the mountain really quickly and it’s our job to get it into this channel and out of the way,” Evans said. “We are protecting 590 square miles from flooding that’s a big responsibility, so for us, it’s important to work on that every single day, especially when it’s not raining.”
Many locals do not see the work that goes into preventing valley-wide floods until it actually rains.
Evans said the Valentine’s Day flood where some of the roads crossing the channel washed away was actually the channel working how it was designed to.
Evans said, “Even though there were some inconveniences related to that because some roads that were inside the channel closed, we didn’t flood homes and businesses and we didn’t have major damage, what we had was a stormwater channel acting like a stormwater channel.”
Meanwhile, Cathedral Canyon is expected to re-open on Friday morning.