The Los Angeles River is a concrete-lined trough strewn with glass and rubble that acts as a flood-control channel. Still, it has been declared "traditional navigable waters" by the Environmental Protection Agency, a key step towards giving the river full protection under the Clean Water Act. The EPA's decision "opens the door for the federal government to use habitat restoration, for example, as a value that must be taken into account when competing for dollars for various projects," said Mark Pestrella, who works with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

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