The next RBDA General Meeting will be on
September 11, 2002 7:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Bonny Doon School
|Going, Going - Gone?
Fish and Farmers on the North Coast
The listing of coho salmon and steelhead as threatened species in North Coast streams occurred in 1996. At the time there were few immediate consequences, but plenty of raised eyebrows and apprehensive looks among those who know environmental law. Protective regulations for salmon followed a few months later and those for steelhead followed in 2000.
The regulatory agencies have been working their way down the coast, looking at fish habitat and water diversions. Regulatory scrutiny focused on our area this spring and resulted in enforcement actions which are turning North Coast farmers into a threatened species.
The Law Enforcement Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sent a letter to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) regarding possible violations of the federal Endangered Species Act. This was the result of on-site inspections of the Coast Dairies property conducted by the NMFS, the California Department of Fish & Game and the state Water Resources Control Board.
None of the stream diversions utilized to water North
Coast ag lands were
This means that a determination will have to be made about whether there is sufficient water available to maintain stream flows for fish and also support agriculture. If there is, a water distribution plan for the property would have to designed. This would include off stream reservoirs sited and built to store water diverted during the winter season.
In the meantime, water availability for future years remains uncertain, and TPL, while committed to the permit process, does not intend to hold the property long enough to undertake projects like reservoir construction.
Coast Dairies Management Plan Delayed
Documents that were expected to answer several important questions about the ownership and future management of the Coast Dairies property have been stalled temporarily while several water issues are sorted out. The Coast Dairies planning team had expected to provide the next deliverable planning documents in May with its Citizenís Advisory Group (CAG) meeting to follow in June. These documents will have to be modified to reflect the impact of reduced water availability. Project Manager Darcey Rosenblatt now hopes to issue the revised version in late August with a CAG meeting to follow in September.
As we reported in the Highlander, the Board of Supervisors, acting as the Redevelopment Agency voted money to rehabilitate and improve two farmsteads on Coast Dairies property. The money was structured as a loan which would be forgiven, but only if the farmland remained in production for 20 years. State Parks, as the expected recipient of those Coast Dairies properties, balked at the conditions. They knew water supply problems were imminent, so they refused the money and never made the improvements.
Davenport Water Affected by RMC
Davenportís water supply may be called into question too. RMC has an old and established right to water from San Vicente Creek and Mill Creek, and a portion of it supplies Davenport residents. While RMCís water rights may be immune to challenge, the agreements to supply Davenport are not. Farmland leases near Davenport once supplied by that water were abandoned 2 years ago. Weather and economics have always made farming an uneven livelihood, but the added burden of uncertain water sources has caused several of the North Coastís long-time farmers to give up. It will be difficult for those remaining to plan for the future while these water rights are being scrutinized and outcomes are in doubt.
Coyne Dime Payoff: New Bylaws Approved
"Help get the RBDA off the dime?" pleaded RBDA Board Member Don Coyne in the last Highlander. Members responded, a quorum attended, and the new bylaws were enacted at the May RBDA meeting. Because of reduced membership, only 42 were needed for a quorum. There were 68 members in attendance, and the vote to approve the new bylaws was 60 to 2, far more than the 2/3 needed.
Following is a summary of the key changes. It is a portion of an article written by the Bylaws Committee which appeared in the Nov. 2001 edition of the Highlander.
-As in the current bylaws, the Executive Board is empowered to be a strong leader to achieve the objectives of the Association. In addition, these new bylaws require a greater depth of Executive Board accountability and communication with the Membership. The bylaws delineate the specific rights of the Membership and the Board.
-With regard to the important area of Executive Board electionsâ€¦there is ample notification of the membership regarding nominations and candidate statements, which permits instituting the benefits of absentee balloting. This approach ensures that the entire membership is heard, by accommodating those members who are unable to attend the important Annual Meeting and so could not participate in the election of the Executive Board.
-Because the entire membership can voice its wishes, a quorum is no longer required for Executive Board elections. The purpose of each type of Membership meeting is clarified in the revised bylaws to ensure that the Association can work effectively.
General meetings are used for: 1) informing the Membership
of Board actions;
-Special meetings held on petition of the Membership are better defined and safeguards have been included to avoid their misuse.
-The Annual Meeting is held for the purpose of taking
action: electing the
The entire text of the new bylaws, which took effect immediately upon passage, are available on the RBDA website here. If anyone wants a printed copy, please contact the RBDA Corresponding Secretary, Miriam Beames.
Following the approval of the bylaws, an official election of officers took place. Don Coyne, Miriam Beames and Marty Demare were elected without opposition. They had been serving on the board since the January meeting when there werenít sufficient members present to have an official election.
Cityís Leaky Pipe May Be Bonny Doonís Problem
With no new supplies coming online since 1974, and its North Coast water pipeline growing ever leakier, the potential for a disastrous shortage when the next drought occurs is constantly more serious. That was the message from Santa Cruz Water Dept. Executive Director Bill Kocher at the May 8 RBDA meeting. He estimated that the city would be up to 48% short of its needs if a drought period similar to the one in 1976 occurred today, because the population has doubled. Although rigorous conservation has dropped the per capita water use to 70 gallons per day, about half the state average, there isnít much more room for savings. Since the city gets about a quarter of its water from North Coast watersheds - Majors, Liddell and Laguna creeks - Bonny Doon is very much affected by the cityís water situation.
The pipeline that brings this water to the cityís treatment plants is old and dilapidated, and much of it runs through steep canyons. The Water Dept. wants to repair and/or replace the pipeline, relocating it to more accessible areas. That means moving it up onto private property on adjacent ridges, where it could be serviced by roads conveniently built and maintained by private landowners. Needless to say, those Bonny Dooners are not fond of this idea.
The city got off on the wrong foot a few months ago when its contractor, Carollo Engineers, sent its surveyors onto these private properties without first obtaining permission. Kocher profusely apologized for that, and stated that the survey wonít proceed until permission is obtained. The Water Dept. estimates that it is losing 23% of the water from the pipeline now to leaks. Repairs or replacement in some sections could affect biosensitive areas, (see sidebar) another reason the department would like to change the route. If the private property owners donít go along, the city could obtain rights of way through its power of eminent domain. The city canít take much more water from the North Coast watersheds. It is exploring other options, like exchanging treated water with some North Coast farmers for use in irrigation, for water pumped from their wells. With the growing pressure to provide more, especially affordable, housing, and UCSCís constant expansion, the Water Dept.ís dilatory approach to increasing the supply will grow ever more urgent, which could well reverberate in Bonny Doon.
Environmental Concerns May Delay Pipeline Repair
The Santa Cruz City Water Department has had to change one of its water supply planning criterion to "vulnerabilility to external events," expanding its concerns beyond natural catastrophes like floods, droughts and earthquakes to include regulatory actions. That concern was illustrated this spring when the city sought to repair the road that runs along Laguna Creek that provides access to its pipeline carrying water diverted from the creek. In addition to their county permit it needed a permit from the state Department of Fish & Game because the repairs were adjacent to the creek. Fish & Game responded by requiring information about the actual diversion and may require an Environmental Impact Report "because diversion from this stream may cause adverse impacts to listed species and their habitats." Fish & Game went on to remind the city of a year-old letter asking for information about CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) compliance at all of its diversions. All of which adds impetus to city Water Commissioner Karsten Muellerís proposal that the city acquire groundwater rights at Wilder Ranch State Park so that it can drill production wells. The farmers who lease land there would be left with treated wastewater for their crops or the land turned to dry farming and grazing.
Feltonís Water Now Comes fromóBerlin?!?!
While we may be concerned about the City of Santa Cruzís plans for North Coast and Bonny Doon water, we should be grateful that we still have access to city water officials like Bill Kocher.
Just over the ridgeline, the company that operated Feltonís water supply system, Citizenís Utilities, has been sold to Cal-Am, a division of American Water Works. American Water Works, headquartered in New Jersey, is the largest publicly traded U.S. corporation devoted exclusively to the business of water, combining 100 small companies in 29 states. But big as it is, American is being acquired by Thames Water, headquartered in London. Thames, the third largest water company in the world, serves 43 million people in 44 countries. But wait! Thames is part of a German conglomerate called RWE, a multinational, multi-utility provider with core businesses in electricity, water, wastewater, gas, waste management and utility related services.
If Feltonís water looks a little murky after the next storm do you think residents should call New Jersey, London oróBerlin?
RBDA special/General Meetings 5/10/02
RBDA Executive Board Meeting 6/14/02
While fish become a rarer sight in our waterways, other objects, such as this car, mattress and boxspring recently pulled from Majors Creek, become more common. Is there a relationship there? The car was in the creek for months before pressure from Smith Grade residents finally forced its removal by authorities.
RMC Timber Harvest Approved
The California Department of Forestry (CDF) has approved RMC Pacific Materialís plan to harvest along Jim Creek, a tributary to San Vicente Creek, which supplies water to the town of Davenport.
Each winter the Davenport Sanitation District is forced to truck in water whenever the turbidity exceeds the treatment plant capacity. During one 3-month period water was trucked in on 6 separate occasions. Much of the upper watershed of San Vicente and Mill creeks has been logged in recent years by RMC (formerly Lonestar). Pressure from citizens did result in a small but extremely significant step: the Timber Harvest Plan incorporates a water quality monitoring plan, the first to be approved in Santa Cruz County.
Software Alliance Bites Goat Pharm Company
Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc., the company that was forced to shut down its huge goat pharm on Back Ranch Road 2 years ago, is one of 10 California businesses caught in software violations.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Business Software Alliance, a watchdog group that represents software manufacturers, received $65,000 from SCBI to settle a claim that it had unlicensed copies of Microsoft programs on its computers.
There apparently is no truth to the rumor that SCBI told the Software Alliance that the goats ate the missing software licenses. In 2000, the California Coastal Commission threatened SCBI with thousands of dollars in fines per day if it didnít shut down because runoff containing dangerous bacteria was flowing through the Coast Road neighborhood from the 1,700 goat pharm. SCBI moved the goats to a ranch it owns in Shandon, in San Luis Obispo County.
Dates Set for RBDA Board Meetings
The RBDA Executive Board has decided to meet on the second Tuesday of each month. The board meets at the homes of board members on a rotating basis. Occasionally, because of the urgency of a subject, other meetings may be scheduled, or a regular meeting may be moved to a different date. The agenda and meeting time and place (except for emergency meetings), as per the new bylaws, will be made known at least 10 days before the meeting. RBDA members who wish to talk to the board are welcome to attend the meetings. If there is a subject a member wishes the board to consider, it would be good to notify the board chair at least 10 days in advance so that it can be placed on the published agenda.
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