Could local muddy water
be linked to poor logging practices?
Club fights for meaningful
water quality monitoring
Santa Cruz Group Executive
Committee member Kristen Raugust received a public notice on May
9 along with every other Davenport resident. It warned, DO NOT DRINK
THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST! The problem: More sediment flowing
down San Vicente Creek than the Davenport Sanitation District's
drinking water filtration system can handle.
Muddy debris resulting from a logging
road failure heads downhill towards Kings Creek in Boulder
Creek which flows into the San Lorenzo River. Photo: Santa
Cruz County photo
While the county blames
tighter state standards, an aging filter system, and more rain than
usual for the problem, environmentalists ask if upstream logging
could be a contributing factor. Plans to log more than 1000 acres
in the San Vicente Creek watershed were approved by the California
Department of Forestry (CDF) last year.
Currently, we have no
way of knowing just how much logging in local watersheds impacts
our water quality. That could change on July 8 when the Central
Coast Regional Water Board will hold a hearing in San Luis Obispo
on a new water quality Monitoring and Reporting Program (MRP) for
timber harvest plans. The MRP is part of a proposed General Categorical
Waiver, required by state legislation which took effect in January
and most people think of buzzing chain saws and falling trees. But
fish and drinking water could just as easily come to mind, as both
can be harmed by logging practices. Local logging requires building
roads and skid trails-lots of them. During a 10-year period, Santa
Cruz County estimated 113 miles of new log roads and skid trails
were constructed. Four hundred miles of such dirt roads exist, or
2/3 the number of county roads. All are potential sources of sediment
muddying local rivers and creeks.
When suspended sediment
(turbidity) increases, drinking water filtration systems can become
over-stressed. Additionally, with excessive suspended sediment fish
can't see to eat, and gravel beds where fish lay their eggs get
choked with silt.
Last year it cost Davenport
$60,000 to haul in clean water from the City of Santa Cruz, because
San Vicente Creek was too muddy to treat.
The Sierra Club, working
with Citizens for Responsible Forest Management, the Lompico Watershed
Conservancy, and the Ocean Conservancy has spent the last two years
encouraging the Water Board to develop a meaningful waiver and water
quality monitoring program for logging operations. While progress
has been made, the process has been slow. The latest proposal is
still woefully inadequate.
Your voice is needed
to put pressure on the Water Board to take water quality seriously.
They have proposed a Negative Declaration instead of an EIR for
adopting a general waiver of discharge requirements for timber harvest
How to help
o Attend the July 8 hearing
in San Luis Obispo and speak in favor of meaningful water quality
monitoring for timber harvests.
o Contact Forestry Task
Force Chair, Jodi Frediani, 426-1697 or JodiFredi@aol.com
for carpooling and more information.
o Visit the Water Board
and follow the link to Proposed General Timber Harvest Waiver.
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