Contractors get 10 days to prepare Arroyo Grande Creek for winter

File photo by Jayson Mellom
WATER DAMAGE: With winter right around the corner, Arroyo Grande’s city staff is concerned about the debris and damage left in Arroyo Grande Creek from last winter’s storms.

After Arroyo Grande Creek was deluged with debris during last winter’s rainstorms, contractors will have only 10 days to remove branches and other vegetation from the creek to prepare for this upcoming winter season. 

“The city’s goal is to get as much creek work done as we can now in order to prepare for what is anticipated to be a significant rainy season,” said Shannon Sweeney, city engineer for Arroyo Grande. 

However, Sweeney said, with the piles of paperwork that needs to be completed before construction, contractors won’t get very much time to complete debris removal. 

“Administrative work began Oct. 2, and the contractor will begin actual creek work once all necessary paperwork is complete—including contracts, insurance, bonds, and right-of-entry agreements, which is scheduled to occur Oct. 23,” Sweeney said. “All work is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1.” 

Large amounts of vegetation and tree branch debris and whole fallen trees are clogging the creek, preventing it from flowing properly, while water flows exposed several tree root systems, leaving them vulnerable to future damage, according to an Oct. 10 staff report from the Arroyo Grande City Council meeting. 

The staff report also states that on Aug. 4, 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order suspending certain statues, rules, and requirements for the purposes of debris removal, sediment removal, and vegetation management in certain water bodies, such as the Arroyo Grande Creek. 

Sweeney said that the order is important because the 2023 winter storms led to the flooding along the Tally Ho area and Corbett Canyon, and city officials don’t want to see that happen again. 

“City staff is concerned that if this material is left in place that it may restrict creek flows this winter and that the undermined trees will break free and potentially damage downstream infrastructure, such as bridges,” Sweeney said.

In addition to having only 10 days to complete debris removal, contractors have some restrictions to follow. 

The staff report states that sediment or vegetation removal is limited to portions of the channel that are dry with no more than 30 percent of the total native vegetation within the stream channel and bank to be removed along each river mile. 

“Some vegetative debris will be chipped and left in place,” Sweeney said. “Sediment will be moved away from the main creek flow, but not removed.”

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