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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

Sierra Club
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz wide
San Vicente Creek still listed for sediment impairment
August 2009

In a stealth move, Redwood Empire Sawmills submitted an eleventh-hour request to the Central Coast Regional Water Board to remove Davenport’s San Vicente Creek from the list of impaired waterways which is required by the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972. San Vicente Creek was listed as impaired for sediment in 2006 after Sierra Club members submitted data and testified showing excessive sediment levels during winter months. Davenport residents, who get their drinking water from the creek, have been forced to boil water during the winter when rainfall runoff carries sediment from logging roads and muddies the waters of the creek.

Even though the submission date for delisting requests for this round closed in February 2007, Redwood Empire submitted their request just 10 days before the July 10 hearing in Watsonville. Apparently staff felt obliged to process the request and recommended the delisting based on 1400 data points which included many months of no rainfall, giving a false impression of water quality in the watershed.

The public was only informed of the recommendation to delist the creek on the morning of the hearing. No data was available for public review, nor was the staff report. Several members of the public, including Sierra Club, objected to the total breach of public process.

Fortunately, three of the five board members present voted against the move, recognizing that the public 45-day required review period had been violated.

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