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A New Approach to Stormwater Management in San Luis Obispo County

Flooding, pollutants delivered to our local creeks and the ocean, and decreases in water quality are all issues that stormwater can cause, if not effectively managed. Stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as parking lots can have a wide range of negative impacts in both urban and non-urban areas of a watershed. 

Management practices and projects, however, can be implemented to make stormwater more a resource than a waste. Better use of rainfall as a resource can be used to address water supply, flood and quality concerns here in San Luis Obispo County.

In order to fund and then implement beneficial stormwater management projects, a stormwater resource management plan (SWRP) is required for applicable state grants. The City of Arroyo Grande and the County of SLO were awarded separate grant funds through the State Water Board and the Department of Water Resources, respectively, to develop a SWRP. The Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, therefore, came to the table to sponsor both grants in order to build a collaborative and region-wide plan. We are currently working as part of a Project Management Team with the City of AG, the County, and the Upper Salinas Las Tablas Resource Conservation District to develop the SLO County SWRP.

The SWRP planning process is complex as a result of the level of collaboration and approach being taken to include the entire SLO region because the SWRP aims to benefit the interests of various communities. We have a Consultant Team contracted to work on the technical pieces of the plan--things like data-driven maps and identifying beneficial stormwater management projects. The Consultant Team's components will help lay a defensible foundation upon which future stormwater management projects can build.

To include perspectives and values from different areas within SLO County, a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will participate in the development of the SWRP. Furthermore, stakeholder engagement and public outreach and education will also enhance the development of this plan and process.The resulting SWRP will provide multiple benefits for the SLO County region and will ultimately make implementation grant applications eligible in the near future. 

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Oso Flaco Watershed Projects

Blackberry/Bioreactor Crop Ripens

The fruits of our labor have arrived! The first blackberry crop is ripening nicely as the bioreactor continues to remove pounds of nitrates from the Oso Flaco watershed. The berries will be harvested and analyzed for weight, yield and sugar content. That data will be compared against berries harvested in a nearby commercial growing operation to determine if the berries grown on the bioreactor are competitive with commerical berries.

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The project, funded by CDFA and supported by State Parks and SWRCB, demonstrates the versatility and efficacy of woodchip bioreactors, proving that on-farm water quality can be improved without loosing arable land to a treatment structure. Demonstrations and field tours are planned for later in 2017.

Oso Flaco Lake Remediation Planning Underway

The CSLRCD and State Parks are working on a planning and assessment grant for Oso Flaco Lake, which will eventually be used to indicate how best to treat the contaminated sediment in both Oso Flaco and Little Oso Flaco lakes.

Oso Flaco Lake has the highest levels of DDT contaminated sediments in California lakes. The work completed to date includes an aerial survey of the lake, sampling and chemical analysis of sediment cores, and the development of an Alternatives and Constraints report based on the results of the sediment analysis. Preliminary analysis of the cores verifies high DDT concentrations in sediment as deep as 4.5 feet below the lake bed.

The Alternatives and Constraints report outlines four remediation plans: 1) dredging both lakes to remove contaminated sediment, 2) capping the contaminated sediment under a layer of sand or fine material, 3) taking no action, or 3) a hybrid treatment of dredging hot spots and monitoring changes to ecosystem health.

All remediation plans will be assessed for benefits, impacts and feasibility. Based on these findings, one plan will be chosen in 2018 for implementation.

 

Time to Toast! Arroyo Grande Conservation Easement Is a Reality

Construction of an Ag Pond0.jpgAfter many folks working for years to acquire a conservation easement that would allow a floodplain and stream restoration project to be implemented, the CSLRCD finally closed escrow on the easement on May 26, 2017. Although itis of great significance, the purchase of this easement is only one component of the planned floodplain and stream restoration project along Tally Ho Creek in the City of Arroyo Grande.

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The easement will allow the construction of a stormwater detention facility capable of holding thousands of tons of sandy sediment that would otherwise impact lower Arroyo Grande Creek, and temporarily hold 20 or more acre-­‐‑feet (6,517,029 gallons) of water during storm events. This project will also improve riparian habitat, permanently preserve 12.5 acres of open space and improve hydrologic function along lower Tally Ho Creek. The project will positively affect the main stem of Arroyo Grande Creek and the flood control channel (Zone 1/1A) by reducing sediment loads and flood waters, in turn reducing associated costs of channel maintenance and flood damage.

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 Above: CSLRCD President Neil Havlik works his way through fallen trees and flooded areas around Corbett Creek. Horse pasture (left) will be undisturbed by the conservation easement.

 

Restoration Planned for Los Osos Property 

CSLRCD staff and other project partners toured a Los Osos property in February to discuss restoration plans. This property was purchased by CSLRCD in 2015 with funding from CA Coastal Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Welcome New CSLRCD Team Members!

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District Engineer William Arkfeld, PE, brings more than 31 years of environmental and civil engineering experience to the CSLRCD. A graduate of Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Resources Engineering, he has been a licensed Civil Engineer for more than 27 years. His strong interest in agriculture is a direct result of childhood experiences on relatives' farms in Iowa.

Environmental Resource Specialist Micaela Mellein graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science and a minor in Rangeland Management. She has a background in livestock management, agriculture and irrigation.

Restoration Specialist I Alyssa Bucci came to CSLRCD in 2016 as a member of the Watershed Stewards Program, an AmeriCorps program. She was mentored by our staff and worked on various projects from bank stabilization, map making and restoration to giving a presentation to the County Board of Supervisors. When her 10-month assignment ended, we were fortunate to hire her for the Oceano Dunes restoration/dust control project.

Board Member Jessica Crutchfield is an environmental attorney who assists property owners, lenders and loan servicers with environmental due diligence, risk management and compliance. She provides pragmatic solutions catered to her clients' needs. She has written about the regulation of dust in rural areas and presented on the topic of urban agriculture. In law school, she focused on Environmental Law and was an extern at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--Region VII.

 

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Board of Directors Meeting
Note: No Board Meeting in November Next Board Meeting: Monday, December 4, 2017