By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
Official help may be on the way
After years of cleaning up and repairing damage caused by the regular flooding of the Alvarado Creek channel, a number of business and property owners are ready to simply take chainsaws and axes to the thick vegetation that clogs the creek in the Grantville area.
The creek channel is mostly hidden from public view behind industrial buildings along Mission Gorge Place, Mission Gorge Road and Alvarado Canyon Road. Though it is typically out of sight and out of mind, it is hard to miss when it spews water, dirt and debris onto the surrounding commercial properties.
That happened once again during the unprecedented heavy rains on July 18 and 19.
Dan Smith of El Dorado Properties says the overgrown vegetation in the creek is a big part of what causes it to overflow when it rains.
“It’s just really frustrating,” Smith said. “The whole channel is choked with bamboo and all kinds of non-native, invasive growth that environmental regulations won’t allow us to touch.”
That doesn’t even consider at least one massive chunk of concrete in the middle of the channel, apparently left there by work crews when the Grantville trolley station was under construction.
Bill Harris, spokesperson for city’s Transportation and Storm Water Department, says independent action is not a good idea.
“Well, after they got through facing all the citations, fines, and possible legal charges, they’d still have problems there,” he said.
It appears, however, that the local government will finally take some remedial action fairly shortly, possibly early as October, Harris said.
That was confirmed by Eric Becker of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
“We will in all likelihood approve the city’s application for emergency maintenance work as early as next month,” Becker said. “After that, it’s a matter of what the city wants to do, and when it wants to do it. We know the problems there, and we’d like to see it taken care of, too.”
It would seem like a straightforward solution to simply clear the channel of whatever is blocking it, but the whole scenario regarding is more than a little complicated and involves more than just the city of San Diego.
The city of La Mesa has a piece of the overall Alvarado Creek problem, as does San Diego State University, the Metropolitan Transit System and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Harris said the Army Corps, which has sometimes been a roadblock to channel improvement and cleanup in the past, is very much on the city’s side this time.
The reason the regional water board is ready to approve work around Grantville is simple — the city has the only application in process there.
There are problems all along the winding channel of Alvarado Creek, and in the best of all worlds, the problems would be attacked along the entire channel route.
But Becker says there’s no problem simply dealing with the mess along the lower creek channel — the Grantville and Mission Gorge sections — separately.
“There’s an obvious problem there,” Becker said. “We’ve done this before in that area, and we can do it again.”
As much flooding as the two-day mid-July storm caused, a lot of people are dreading the forecast possibility of heavy rains due to the “Godzilla” El Nino scientists expect to hit California this winter.
Harris, who’s made a study of all this, says El Nino doesn’t work quite that way, or shouldn’t.
That may be cold comfort to people who pay too much attention to overblown, the-sky-is-gonna-fall television news stories, and not enough to the scientists who actually do know this stuff.
—Doug Curlee is the editor at large. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.