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Middle School construction failure de jour

Atmospheric river after atmospheric river - that's a new normal thanks to climate change. While we all are no doubt reeling from the intensity of the current set of storms, in reality these storms are nothing compared to what the future portends. Climate scientists tell us to get ready for the ArkStorm2.0 flood they expect will happen one of these days. The current storms are just a fire drill for that level of flooding.

Given today's relatively mild flooding and the much more severe expected flooding, it was interesting to see that the San Juan Unified School District is basically oblivious to even low flood levels. The school board is moving ahead with its Creekside middle school boondoggle project:  the ill-conceived, expensive cramming of a large middle school onto a parcel that is too small to meet state-mandated minimums. Setup for the demolition of the old school buiuldings has been underway for just a few days. Mother Nature is already demonstrating what local residents have been asserting for months about the significance of the Chicken Ranch Slough flood plain. In late November 2022 the school board voted to move ahead with the project, claiming among other things that the construction footprint would not disturb the flood plain. Undaunted, the school board's contractor is working in the flood plain outside of the construction footprint. As that old margarine commercial said, though, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

You can see from the photos that the environmental stormwater barriers (coir logs or waddles) along the construction perimeter are now floating in storm waters 2-3 feet deep. Floods like this are common most every winter along Chicken Ranch Slough. The floating waddles clearly violate the local Storm Water Prevention Plan. Further, the October 2022 runoff saw water depths 3-4 feet deeper than they are today. The haphazard fencing will surely catch debris and exacerbate the flooding. By refusing to understand the importance of keeping construction out of the flood plain, the school district is not only ignoring regulations about storm water, it is also showing a lack of common sense. Duh! Don't build in a flood plain. The violation has been reported to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Residents are awaiting a response.


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