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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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Post-fire Disaster Assistance

 Wildfires, especially those caused by human activity, can take a tragic toll on the people and landscape affected. In California the wildfire season is typically followed by the rainy season presenting hazards such as flooding, erosion and more to the already fire- damaged watersheds and the people who live in them.      

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a federal non-regulatory agency that can work with partners and landowners to assess and possibly mitigate damages following wildfires.      

One program available through NRCS is the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). This program is designed to help people reduce imminent hazards to life and property. All projects undertaken through EWP are done in conjunction with a sponsor, such as a city, state, county or other eligible party. It is not intended to assist individuals. EWP can pay up to 75 percent of the cost of emergency measures.

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Typical work includes removing debris from stream channels, culverts and bridge abutments; reshaping and protecting eroding banks; correcting damaged drainage facilities; repairing levees; or reseeding a damaged area. Link to EWP information.      

NRCS may also be able to assist impacted landowners and communities with technical information to help them return damaged watersheds to normal functioning. NRCS conservationists may be able to offer advice on preventing erosion, covering and protecting exposed soil, directing water away from vulnerable areas and more.  

NRCS assistance is accessed through one of California's 55 local offices.

Click here for publications, resources and more information.


A Big Thank You to RCD Director Cheryl Lenhardt!Cheryl Lenhardt.jpg

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Cheryl Lenhardt, who became a Director on the Coastal San Luis RCD Board in May 2004, will be leaving the Board to meet the increased demands of her civil engineering business. With a background as a licensed civil engineer and CEO of her own business, Cheryl has been a very active and dedicated participant on the RCD board for the past 13 1/2 years. She has collaborated with staff and fellow directors to develop and administer numerous conservation-based projects.

The directors and staff want to give a great big THANK YOU to Cheryl for the many years she has dedicated to the District and wish her continued success in her future endeavors.


Welcome New CSLRCD Team Members!

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Environmental Resource Specialist Larissa Clarke has a diverse set of skills, varied from experiences in water-quality monitoring, seagrass research and restoration efforts, and organic farming. She is a graduate of the interdisciplinary Marine Resource Management Master's program at Oregon State University where her field-based research was conducted in Pacific Northwest estuaries. Clarke originally made her way west from the East Coast, where she earned a BS in Environmental and Natural Resources from Clemson University and then landed on the Central Coast where she has worked in the watershed restoration field. An enthusiast of beaches and trails, she is delighted to be a member of the CSLRCD team.

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Restoration Coordinator Seamus Land graduated from San Luis Obispo High School in 2012 and went on to attend UC Berkeley, where he majoried in Environmental Earth Science and minored in English. During summer 2015, he worked as an intern for the CSLRCD, collecting seeds, transplanting in the greenhouse and monitoring the wind fencing. After graduation, he managed an organic orange orchard in Morro Bay for a year. He is excited to join the team.

Restoration Specialist I Katrina Henderson grew up in the outskirts of the Bay Area where her passion for the outdoors was born. At the University of Oregon, she earned her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology. Through multiple internships as a naturalist educator and riparian restoration specialist, she decided to return to California to work in ecological restoration. She worked with California State Parks for about one year as a seasonal ecological restoration specialist, and she is excited to continue with the CSLRCD. Her interests include restoration and conservation, ecosystem ecology, water management and wilderness therapy.


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Board of Directors Meeting

Board of Directors Meeting
Friday, March 23, 2018

12:30 p.m. at SLO City/County Library
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