Waterkeeper partnered with Inland Empire Utilities Agency from July 2009 through April 2011 to locate, remove and inventory debris within three miles of targeted areas on Chino and Mill Creeks in the Prado Basin. Plagued with illegal dumping in many areas, Chino and Mill Creeks suffer from severe trash pollution. Waterkeeper staff and over 200 volunteers actively worked toward improving water quality by removing almost 15 TONS of trash from these two creeks for the benefit of wildlife, the public, and downstream water consumers. The Project objectives for Waterkeeper were:
To survey the targeted areas of Chino and Mill Creeks for information on access points, terrain, dumping locations, creek conditions, and other notable items relevant to conducting future debris removal
To remove debris in the targeted areas of Chino and Mill Creeks by utilizing local volunteer groups
To inventory removed debris in order to provide information to target future source control strategies
Over the length of the grant period, Waterkeeper increased knowledge on the surrounding area due to surveying and data collection, on-the-ground clean-up restoration work, and inventory of the removed debris. Furthermore, community involvement and outreach were substantially increased; contributing to new partnerships and the strengthening of old relationships. In addition, with the aid of Project funding Waterkeeper was able to provide employment opportunities to nine local residents over the course of the Project. Great success and complex challenges were both a part of the Project for Waterkeeper as each objective was accomplished. The final outcomes were immediate visible improvements and long-term water quality progress within Chino and Mill Creeks.
This area has seen a direct correlation between the rate of urbanization and the volume of debris in waterways. Trash collects in low-hanging trees and brush with heavy items lying on the channel bed. The extent of impact on water quality is presently unknown, although trash has been known to harbor bacteria and cause other water quality problems. Some items we pulled out included: tires, mattress, shopping carts, furniture, and TONS of PLASTIC!! Waterkeeper staff is currently searching for funds to implement a public policy phase which will raise awareness about the chronic trash issue within the City of Chino and surrounding cities in the watershed. We will work toward implementation of upstream prevention measures; thus addressing the root of the problem and contributing to a long-term solution to keep trash and pollutants out of these critical waterways.
Waterkeeper's debris removal project was one facet of a larger coordinated effort to improve the entire Prado Basin. Upon completing our original project, Inland Empire Utilities Agency contracted with Waterkeeper again to conduct photomonitoring services at 20 sites along Chino and Mill Creeks. As part of the ongoing efforts to both monitor and prevent illegal dumping at these creeks, Waterkeeper's photo-monitoring and reporting will provide visual evidence of the impacts to the waterways. Monitoring efforts took place October 2011 through June 2012.
Check out the Chino and Mill Creek Debris Removal Project's Final Report here!
This work is generously funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the California Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Additional support comes from theWalmart Foundation and Union Bank Foundation.
Advocating for the Forest and the Community
Inland Empire Waterkeeper is actively advocating for the Cleveland National Forest and the adjacent communities in the face of the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, which proposes a hydroelectric plant at Lake Elsinore, and the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano Interconnect Project (TE/VS) which plans to construct high-voltage transmission lines through the Cleveland National Forest. IEWK has monitored streams along the eastern foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains to develop a baseline database of current forest health, coordinating educational materials and outreach to educate the community on projects slated for the Forest, and advocating on behalf of the Forest.
What is LEAPS?
LEAPS stands for Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage.It is a joint project of the Nevada Hydro Company Inc. and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District. The developers would dam a canyon above Lake Elsinore and develop hydroelectric power for use during periods of peak demand. The plan also includes building 30 miles of transmission line on 170-foot towers through the Cleveland National Forest. The reservoir would cover roughly 100 acres and the dam would be 180 feet high. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is responsible for granting the hydroelectric permit, and the U.S. Forest Service is responsible for granting the transmission lines.
At night when the cost of electricity is low, 10% of Lake Elsinore’s water would be pumped up into the reservoir During peak demand hours when the price of electricity is high, the water would be released back into the lake, generating power. Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District conceived the project in 1988 to produce a modest amount of peak demand power, and to collect funds from the power plant’s operator to purchase water to stabilize lake levels. Over the years, the scope has grown significantly.
Regulatory agencies, including FERC and the California Energy Commission, have expressed concerns about the financial aspects of the advanced pumped storage (hydroelectric) portion of the project, and seem to be leaning toward going forward with the transmission lines through the Cleveland National as a separate entity in case the hydroelectric portion is found to be unfeasible. Nevada Hydro has filed papers with the California Public Utilities Commission to go ahead with just the transmission lines. If this becomes purely a project to build transmission lines through the Forest, then we believe that Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District has no business being involved in the project, because an electrical utility transmission line is inconsistent with EVMWD's mission to provide high-quality drinking water to its customers. So far, EVMWD has reportedly spent more than $3 million on the project.
The major focus of this project now seems to be turning away from the financially questionable advanced pumped storage aspect and toward the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano 500 kV Interconnect. The transmission lines as described in the draft EIS cross more than 22 blue-line streams and have great potential for damaging these waterways. “Construction of transmission line towers at stream crossings could affect water quality and fish habitat in the streams that are crossed,” according to the draft EIS (page 3-81). Further, there will be impacts from the maintenance roads used to access these towers. The project proponent claims measures will be taken to reduce impacts. Avoiding riparian areas and instituting setback restrictions for every watercourse are unrealistic mitigation measures for a project that will be out of the sight of the public. If the transmission line is approved, we are highly skeptical that (1) the project contractor would implement proper erosion and sediment controls, and (2) the controls would be adequate to protect beneficial uses. We also object to the project’s premise of constructing massive electrical transmission lines in a U.S. National Forest, one of the few last pristine environments left in Southern California.
Inland Empire Waterkeeper believes that running a 30-mile-long utility transmission line through one of our most highly impacted National Forests sets a terrible precedent for development in such areas. There are not only aesthetic issues, but potential negative impacts on water quality, recreational uses and fire potential. The recent Grass Valley Fire in the neighboring San Bernardino National Forest was caused by power lines. That fire burned hundreds of acres, destroyed nearly 200 homes and caused the evacuation of more than 30,000 people. No assessment has yet been made on the damage to the Mojave River Watershed and Santa Ana River Watershed, but the adverse effects of this fire on water quality and flood potential could be enormous, depending on the intensity of the next few rainy seasons.
We believe that Southern California’s largest natural lake, the San Jacinto River and Santa Ana River watersheds, the Cleveland National Forest, local wildlife, and the quality of life for people in the Inland Empire will be negatively impacted by the LEAPS project as it is currently envisioned. Even though we are the fastest growing area of California, we have not written off the natural and aesthetic environment of the Inland Empire, and we hope that our officials in Sacramento will not do so.
What is TE/VS?
The Nevada Hydro Company (TNHC) proposed the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano (TE/VS) 500 kV Interconnect Project as a transmission project connected to the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS) Project; TE/VS would help facilitate development of the LEAPS Project. The TE/VS 500 kV transmission line would create an interconnection from the LEAPS hydroelectric energy storage facility to Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). Three facilities are going to physically internconnect the TE/VS and LEAPs Project with the SCE and SDG&E systems. New circuits will be used, as well as upgraded exisiting ones to increase the transmission lines capacity. SCE and SDG&E will need to upgrade to accommodate the project's transmission and generation components.
The Nevada Hydro Company believes benefits of this project include increasing the accessibility of electric power generated from renewable resources, and helping to manage this energy production more effectively. It will also improve energy distribution in southern Riverside County. A few objectives of the TE/VS are to reduce congestion, provide an interconnection between SDG&E and SCE transmission systems, long-term infrastructure planning efforts, and enhance localized electrical facilities and systems. However, the Inland Empire Waterkeeper strongly opposes the development of the Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano Interconnect Project in combination with the LEAPS Project.
The LEAPS Economic Evaluation has stated that, "When revenue and cost factors are considered, we conclude that the LEAPS project, as a merchant plant, is not viable at this time." LEAPS is expected to have only $0.3 million in annual new energy sales, not the $54.6 million TNHC predicted. This project is not financially sound and would be an environmental disaster for the Cleveland National Forest. Habitats for federally protected species and sensitive plant communities would be destroyed along with hundreds of acres of chaparral and grasslands.The water and air quality in Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties would be negatively affected due to transportation of polluted water from Lake Elsinore and acitivities from heavy construction. Due to these significant environmental impacts, the LEAPS and TE/VS have been in the review process for years costing large sums of ratepayers' dollars which will not be reimbursed if the project is not built.
How You Can Help
There is still time to comment on the Environmental Impact Report for these proposed projects. The comment period will extend to April 29, 2011. Click on our sample letters, PDF File and Word File to learn how to make your voice heard in this current opportunity. You can either mail, fax, or email the letters to the addresses listed on the sample letter.
Write letters of opposition to the California Energy Commission, Attn: Commissioner John Geesman, 1516 9th St., MS-31, Sacramento, CA 95814-5512.
Sample Letter, English. | PDF File | Word File
Sample Letter, Espanol. | PDF File | Word File
Write letters of opposition to the California Public Utilities Commission, Attn: Rachelle Chong, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.
Sample Letter, English. | PDF File | Word File
Write letters of oposition to the U.S. Forest Service, Trabuco Ranger District, Cleveland National Forest, Attn: Virgil Mink at 1147 East 6th Street, Corona, CA 92879.
Sample Letter, English. | PDF File | Word File
Write letters of opposition to the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors, Attn: Harvey Ryan at 31315 Chaney Street, Lake Elsinore, CA 92531
Sample Letter, English. | PDF File | Word File
Write letters of opposition to the FERC, Office of Energy Projects, Attn: James Fargo at 888 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20426
Sample Letter, English. | PDF File | Word File
Make a donation to Inland Empire Waterkeeper to continue our mission: http://www.iewaterkeeper.org/iewaterkeeper/get-involved/donate.asp
Links to More Information & Timeline of Events
June 4, 2010 Notice of Availability of Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and NEcessity including Proponent's Environmental Assessment, Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano 500 kV Interconnect.
April 17, 2009 DECISION TO DISMISS APPLICATION WITHOUT PREJUDICE, CA Public Utilities Commission, *transmission-line component only*
March 17, 2009 "Draft ruling dings power line application", The Californian
March 17, 2009 Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club Santa Ana Mountains Task Force PRESS RELEASE
March 16, 2009 Notice of DRAFT ruling to DISMISS THE APPLICATION WITHOUT PREJUDICE
*for the transmission line component only.
March 3, 2009 "Hydroelectric project criticized", The Californian
March 2, 2009 "Grand jury report critical of power facility", The Californian
Feb. 26, 2009 CURE (California Unions for Reliable Energy) reply to the 5th revised PEA as still inadequate.
Feb. 26, 2009 Chief Administrative Law Judge rules to consolidate dockets and assign proceedings.
*CA Public Utilities Commission assigns new docket number A. 09-02-012, and new Commissioner (Rachelle Chong) and new Administrative Law Judge Angela Minkin.
Nov. 14, 2008 Nevada Hydro releases Notice of Availability of revised, revised PEA (PDF, 71 KB)
Sept. 2, 2008 Administrative Law Judge with the Public Utilities Commission rules revised PEA is still insufficient (PDF, 454 KB)
August 21, 2008 Southern California Edison files protest with CPUC on revised PEA(PDF, 338 KB)
Nevada Hydro provides revisions to Proponent's Environmental Assessment (PEA) on 07/23/08 as required by CPUC in March, 2008.
Editorial in The Californian, "Pull plug on hydroelectric plant plan" Sunday, May 18, 2008.
Stop LEAPS Web site. www.stopleaps.info.
EVMWD LEAPS Web site www.evmwd.com/depts/admin/public_affairs/leaps/default.asp
Nevada Hydro LEAPS Info Web site http://www.leapsforward.org/ (Note: the company itself has no Web site)
April 9, 2008 Press Enterprise article, "Elsinore Valley water district reaches new deal on proposed hydroelectric facility" by Aaron Burgin
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Web site: www.cpuc.ca.gov
CPUC link directly to Proceeding No. A0710005: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/proceedings/A0710005.htm
Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board LEAPS Web site: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/santaana/html/leaps.html
Marine Protected Areas Site Selection Process
Current Orange County MPAs
Check out our partner Orange County Coastkeeper for the most recent updates on the Marine Life Protection Act.
What is the Marine Life Protection Act
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) was signed in 1999 and directs the state to reexamine and redesign Californias system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The MLPA is a visionary state law that brings together scientists, fishermen, conservationists, business owners, residents and Fish & Game officials to create a long-term plan to restore and protect California's most unique and threatened marine environments.
What are MPAs? MPAs are named discrete geographic marine or estuarine areas designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat (Defined in Public Resources Code, Sections 36602 and 36710). Just as parks on land protect special lands and wildlife from overdevelopment, MPAs and reserves preserve California's stunning marine ecosystems for future generations to observe and enjoy.
Here's a list of MPA designations:
State Marine Reserve (SMR): all extractive activities are prohibited.
State Marine Park (SMP): all commercial extractive activities and potentially some recreational activities are prohibited.
State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA): some recreational and/or commercial extractive activities may be limited.
Why is this necessary?
The Legislature addresses the need to increase the coherence of California’s MPA systems in order to increase its effectiveness at protecting the state’s marine life, habitat, and ecosystems. Scientists have shown that marine protected areas help restore depleted fish and wildlife populations. In fully protected marine reserves, scientists have found that fish can grow more abundant, bigger, more fertile and more resilient in protected areas.
Temescal Creek Research & Restoration
**Click here to download a slideshow of images from Temescal Creek**
**Click here to download a map of our creek survey area (general) or detailed map 1 (Magnolia to Weirick Road), detailed map 2 (Weirick Road to Horsethief Canyon), and detailed map 3 (Horsethief Canyon to Nichols Road)
**Click here to read the results of walking all 19 miles of the creek
Temescal Creek flows from the south at Lake Elsinore to the Santa Ana River in Corona near the I-15/SR-91 interchange. It lies within the valley between the Cleveland National Forest (Santa Ana Mountains) and the foothills of the Gavilan Plateau. Sections of the creek flow year-round and provide an essential north-south wildlife and open space corridor. In addition, it is an important east-west stopover between the Santa Ana's, the Plateau and the San Jacinto mountains beyond. We see this creek as an immense opportunity to improve the Temescal Valley community, both environmentally and socially. The valley is under immense pressure to develop homes and businesses that could, if not properly planned, sever any remaining open space linkages and block appealing views. Poor planning and unchecked-growth could also destroy what natural beauty is left in the creek landscape, as well as any potential aesthetic value for future generations to come.
The grant will support:
trash removal (volunteers neeeded!),
locating illegal dumping locations,
locating pockets of native and non-native plants
locating potential recreational locations
freeway signage, "Santa Ana River Watershed: Keep it Clean!" at the watershed entrance on the northbound I-15.
locating illicit discharges and
working with local agencies and organizations toward a long-term goal of recreational sites (pocket parks) and perhaps eventually a trail.
This work is generously funded in part by Union Bank of California and the Cornell Douglas Foundation.
The grant includes getting community support against the Irvine-Corona Expressway tunnel and the Mid-County Parkway.
The Irvine-Corona Expressway tunnel would provide an extension from Cajalco Road at the I-15 through 12 miles of mountain to Irvine near the SR-241/SR-133 interchange. Current construction estimates are at 15 years and $10 billion, for a road that will not provide any noticeable relief for future traffic congestion - is that how you want your tax dollars spent in this recession?Project supporters have stated that this project could be a "beta test" for new tunneling techniques that would cross 4 dormant earthquake faults. The Cleveland National Forest would be criss-crossed with access roads and facilities - not to mention the 15 years of construction trucks and debris working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is not what we want in our National Forest watershed for a project that will not help relieve traffic.
The Mid-County Parkway is a 32-mile, 6-lane freeway proposal from the SR-79 in Perris to the I-15 at Cajalco Road that would blaze a trail through the Gavilan Hills Plateau and the Lake Mathews community. It would bisect, cross and otherwise impact the Estelle Mountain Ecological Reserve, the El Sobrante Landfill Wildlife Conservation Area, and the Harford Springs County Regional Park, which are home to many threatened and endangered species.This watershed of Lake Mathews (a drinking water reservoir), Temescal Creek, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake and the San Jacinto River is one of the last vestiges of wildlands in southwest Riverside County, and should NOT be opened up for development with the introduction of a freeway.We support expansion of the SR-74 to the south, and expanding Cajalco Road to a 4-lane expressway.
What is the Santa Ana Mountain Tunnel?
Current discussions on alleviating traffic congestion on the 91 Freeway include an 11.5-mile tunnel from Interstate 15 near Cajalco Road in Corona to the 241/133 interchange in Irvine. The tunnel's construction would require $8.6 billion in local, state and federal funds, and is one of several alternatives and combinations being considered. In addition to the dangers inherent in crossing three faults, and digging a tunnel where groundwater conditions are uncertain, there will be significant impacts above ground. The tunnel construction would require air vents and emergency access roads. The rock and dirt removed to make the tunnel could fill Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, five times! Construction would run 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and benefits wouldn't be seen till 2030. And it would only serve a meager 57,000 cars per day in a region with 5 million residents (as of 2030). It would be a toll road, ranging from $5 to $20 each way. Notably, the tunnel would require equipment, machines and components that are so advanced in order to withstand the groundwater pressures and so on, that they have not even been invented yet! Impacts to the National Forest, several watercourses, residents and local highways would be unprecedented. Join Waterkeeper in opposing the Irvine-Corona Expressway.
Links to More Information
Press Enterprise article, "Corona-Irvine Tunnel nixed" (Aug. 27, 2010)
North County Times article, "REGION: Study says tunnel feasible but costly" (Jan. 27, 2010)
Download our Presentation to Local Leaders on Why We Should Not Support The Tunnel, and instead Protect the Temescal/Elsinore Valleys (PDF, large)**contains spectacular photos**
JOIN THE LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN! We have drafted for you three template letters expressing the concerns of the community against this project, and their suggested solutions based off a public survey conducted in the spring of 2009. The three major players at this time are, Riverside County Transportation Commission, the City of Corona, and the Orange County Transportation Authority. Send them a letter today!
Easiest way: CLICK ON THIS LINK http://cacoastkeeper.org/take-action/speak-out/7 TO SEND OUT ALL THREE LETTERS AT ONCE.
Download letter to RCTC (English): Word (38KB) AND NOW AVAILABLE IN SPANISH (PDF, 77KB)
Download letter to City of Corona (English): Word (34KB)
Download letter to OCTA (English): Word (31KB)
Press Enterprise artcle (1/14/09), "More study urged for Corona-to-Irvine tunnel plan"
Press Enterprise article (11/14/08), "Corona-to-Orange County tunnel appears feasible after early tests, officials say"but we will wait to see the results this December before deciding whether or not that is true.
OC Register article, "Engineers OK Riverside County - O.C. tunnel" in regards to the results of borings to test viability of a Metropolitan Water District 10- to 12-foot diameter water pipe from Lake Mathews to Irvine. Cost ranges from $680 million to $770 million with construction lasting more than 7 years.
Make a donation to Inland Empire Waterkeeper to help continue our mission: http://www.iewaterkeeper.org/iewaterkeeper/get-involved/donate.asp
How You Can Help
We recommend that interested persons should get on the project contact list by sending a joint email to both FChavarria@octa.net and JStandiford@rctc.org indicating your interest in the Irvine-Corona Expressway project.
Please also check the following three websites often:
Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) at www.rctc.org/91roca.asp
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) at www.octa.net
Riverside Orange Corridor Authority (ROCA) at www.octa.net/abetter91roca.aspx
To read a recent article in Popular Mechanics detailing the proposed project, click here.
What is the Water Quality Assessment?
In July 2008 Inland Empire Waterkeeper contracted with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board to conduct the Upper Santa Ana River Watershed Water Quality Assessment project over 14-months. We sampled water quality at 10 sites in three creeks (San Timoteo, Warm or Twin Creek and City Creek) from San Bernardino to Cherry Valley. This photo shows Programs Director Autumn DeWoody scouting out one of the sites.
To see our sampling locations, click the map below. (PDF, 1.3 MB)
|FINAL REPORTS ARE AVAILABLE! Click on the links below for data.
1. Final Project Report
2. San Timoteo Figure
3. Warm Creek Figure
4. City Creek Figure
5. Appendix A: San Timoteo data tables
6. Appendix A: City Creek data tables
7. Appendix A: Warm Creek data tables
8. Appendix B: San Timoteo data graphs
9. Appendix B: City Creek data graphs
10. Appendix B: Warm Creek data graphs
11. Appendix C: Rainfall data
12. Appendix D: Selected photos
13. Appendix E: Quality Assurance/Quality Control Report
Driving Home the Watershed Message
As part of our commitment to Advocacy and Education, Inland Empire Waterkeeper has launched a high-profile campaign to increase awareness of the Santa Ana River Watershed and San Jacinto Watershed in the Inland Empire and Orange County The Santa Ana River Watershed Awareness Program will consist of two major elements:
A freeway sign program
A public education campaign
Freeway Sign Program
Inland Empire Waterkeeper would like to express our gratitude to green building consultant Eric R. Shamp, owner of Ecotype Consulting in Redlands, who stepped up and provided us with a generous contribution of $1,500 for this project. The money will be used to pay for our Caltrans encroachment permits for the signs and will officially get the program off the ground.
To see a larger version of the map, click here.
Public Education Campaign
The public education component of the Watershed Awareness Program will include billboards, media events, an interactive Web site, and public service announcements. During this approximately one-year process, we will be educating the public about the watershed while explaining the meaning of the signs. The media effort will continue after the signs appear on the freeways and millions of people are passing them each day, so that they will understand the deeper message. We will choose billboard locations near the signs to drive home the messages that, (1) they are entering our watershed, (2) it has inherent value and meaning, and (3) there are reasons to keep it clean through simple acts of stewardship.
The Freeway Sign Program began in the summer of 2008 with coordination between Inland Empire Waterkeeper and Caltrans Districts 8 and 12. Several setbacks have occurred but we fully intend to complete this project with 2 signs in 2009 and 5 more in 2010.
Please contact Project Manager, Megan Brousseau at (951) 530 - 8823 or email@example.com for more information.