Alpine County gets temporary reprieve |

Alpine County gets temporary reprieve

Susan Wood

Alpine County has been spared, at least for now, from paying for a failing grade on an erosion control job on the Markleeville Creek.

A public hearing regarding alleged water quality control violations during Alpine County’s Markleeville Creek Bank Stabilization Project has been postponed for at least a month.

The project’s stream sediment repercussions were to be discussed during the California Regional Water Quality Control Board’s regular session slated today and Thursday. It will probably make the agenda during the Lahontan region’s May meeting.

Alpine County Counsel Dennis Crabb requested the continuance to prepare the county’s argument against Lahontan’s civil liability complaint, and the water quality control agency obliged. Crabb told the agency in the letter that he received the complaint Feb. 16 and needs more time to conduct inquiries into the matter.

“It is extremely difficult to accept the conclusion in the staff report that Alpine County somehow derived economic benefit from a flood repair project,” Crabb said in the letter.

Lahontan wants Alpine County to pay $3,000 in fines for its part in making silt deposits in the Markleeville Creek during excavation to protect the stream from erosion. A Lahontan inspector gave the public works department a failing grade for the work.

The Alpine County Public Works project sought to repair the stream bank damaged in the New Year’s floods of 1997.

The project was supposed to be completed in that year, but it was delayed by the National Resource Conservation Service – the project administrator that hired the contractor.

Crabb contends the county should not be penalized for the work, although it applied for and received the permits on the job.

“They failed to follow their own plan and meet the conditions of their own permit,” Lahontan Environmental Specialist Jason Churchill said. “But the agency that applied for the permits is responsible.”

In placing rock on the stream bank to protect it from further erosion, the contractor knocked soil in the stream, making it murky.

“We’re not asking for any alterations on the job,” Churchill added. He expects nature to correct the silt deposits through the normal course of water flow.

It’s still unclear how much damage was done, but that does not negate the problem, Churchill noted.

“There were impacts to water quality because the work was done improperly,” he said.

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