Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a debris basin?

Debris basins are facilities designed to capture sediment, gravel, boulders, and vegetative debris that are washed out of the canyons during storms but allow water to flow into the downstream storm drain system, thereby reducing flood risk for communities downstream of the facility. They are typically located at the mouths of canyons and are key components of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District's flood risk management system.

In unburned watersheds, debris basins are cleaned out once they are 25 percent full. The number of years it takes to reach that level varies. In burned watersheds, where the potential for mudflows is higher, debris basins are cleaned out once they are 5 percent full. A watershed that has had more than 20 percent of its area burned within the previous 5 years is considered a burned watershed. For some debris basins in burned watersheds, this may lead to multiple cleanouts within a year.