[env-trinity] Two Rivers Tribune: Hoopa and Willow Creek Work Together to Protect Trinity River

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Thu Jun 13 10:45:04 PDT 2013

Hoopa and Willow Creek Work Together to Protect Trinity River

Hoopa Tribal EPA Solid Waste Coordinator, Tania Lindsey, left, and Environmental Planner Gary Colegrove, left center, prepare before their presentation during the WCCSD Board meeting on Thursday, May 23./Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

The director and two employees of the Hoopa Tribal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told Willow Creek Community Services District (WCCSD) Board members on Thursday, May, 23, that water quality is poor on the Trinity River.

Hoopa and Willow Creek draw their drinking water directly from the Trinity and its tributaries. Both towns are littered with hundreds of individual septic tank systems for homes and businesses.

EPA Director Ken Norton said, “I know the Hoopa Tribe is looking to develop a wastewater treatment facility valley-wide.”

The WCCSD is also working to secure funding to start a wastewater treatment facility of their own to serve the downtown area.

Pat Kaspari, with the WCCSD Wastewater Committee, said they were close to receiving a $499,805 initial grant for the first phase of the project.

“It’ll be focused on a design report on where the collection system, pipes, and treatment facility will be,” Kaspari said.

Supporters pushed for a treatment facility for many years because of a growing threat to water quality from agricultural run-off, nearby septic tanks, landslides, and gravel mining.

WCCSD Manager Steve Paine said, “In our own water quality study five years ago, we identified 15 sites within 200 yards of the river. That will have changed significantly with all of the new marijuana grows in the hills.”

Another reason behind the push for the treatment facility is that the downtown business area hasn’t been able to expand because septic tank systems require large lot sizes.

WCCSD Director Tom O’Gorman said, “Our community is being severely affected by a lack of businesses downtown.”

Local business owner Marc Rowley said he thought the treatment facility would lead to rising property values in the area.

“It appears that there are a lot of wonderful things getting ready to happen,” Rowley said. “I think that this is probably going to trigger a lot of activity and interest in Willow Creek.”

Hoopa Tribal EPA’s staff members at the meeting were more focused on the increasing threats to water quality in the Trinity River, which is where most of Hoopa’s drinking water comes from.

Gary Colgrove, an environmental planner with Hoopa Tribal EPA, said major problems included gravel and sediment from mining and road building, toxic algae blooms, illegal open dumps, and clandestine marijuana cultivation.

“Some of the things that contribute to algae blooms are nutrients like phosphorous, which come from illegal grows,” Colegrove said, and noted that some plantations use nearly five gallons of fertilizer per plant and can have over 10,000 plants.

Colegrove also showed before-and-after photos of illegal open garbage dumps, with everything from used diapers to old machinery dumped directly into the watershed.

Another large and growing problem is the number of homes with septic systems perched above the river. Hoopa EPA found 1,151 within one and a half miles of the river between the South Fork of the Trinity and the north end of the Hoopa Valley.

“We actually did fecal coliform sampling near each site. All were below the Tribe’s safe limits of 120 parts per million (PPM),” Colgrove said. “We’d eventually like to coordinate to prevent contamination in the future.”

- See more at: http://www.tworiverstribune.com/2013/06/hoopa-and-willow-creek-work-together-to-protect-trinity-river/#sthash.h9wc5gDH.dpuf
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