Letter: Changing Access

Letter to the Editor

The story “State Parks Shuts Down Rindge Dam” in the Aug. 21 edition of The Malibu Times jogs my memories of 1952 to 1956, while working for the old Malibu Water Company. During those years, I regularly patrolled Malibu Canyon Road to make sure signs were posted liberally on the fence above the west bank of Malibu Canyon warning: “No Trespassing, No Fires, No Fishing, No Hunting.” 

A second duty was to periodically walk the dam line to repair leaks or to summon a crew to repair a major leak. The dam line was operating until 1963-64, not to the mid-1950s, as some believe. During those treks, I walked across the dam, which had a hand cable guide on the top edge of the dam. I checked the dam-keeper’s cement house on the east bank of the canyon above the dam for trespassers and found none. The posting of signs and constant monitoring of the dam area seemed to work well in that era — but that was more than 58 years ago. The 1924 dam will mark its 90th anniversary in December 2014. 

The Rindge Dam is the engineering marvel of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). The Dam should not be destroyed because it guards an aquifer of ten million gallons of water useful for fire repression; it and the aquifer provides continued stability of Malibu Canyon Road, and the removal of a few feet of sediment and capping the aquifer could trap tainted urban runoff or sewage spills from the upper watershed. Flood waters over the dam falling 100-feet vertically lessens the down stream intensity and erosion effects of those flood waters. 

This Rindge Dam property should not be destroyed. The “off-limits” instituted by State Parks Department should stop adventurous hikers and thrill seekers from making bad decisions. The dam also provides reduced risks to down-stream property owners from fires or floods wrought by careless visitors or nature. The State should designate the canyon a Wilderness Preserve, off-limits to the public except on outings guided by county, state or federal parks personnel. These would be on a sporadic basis but none during drought, fire, stormy or high-wind conditions. 

Ronald L. Rindge