San Luis Obispo’s Laguna Lake needs dredging
October 21, 2014
OPINION By JIM FOLEY
The Laguna Lake Natural Reserve Conservation Plan is long and complicated and the dredging permit process itself is also long and complicated.
According to the city biologist there may be agencies that don’t even want us to dredge the lake. We have environmental issues, steelhead and endangered plants that Atascadero Lake does not have.
Even though a plan to dredge the lake was approved there is no method for funding it at this time. Bob Hill has said that the condition of the lake bed would be too challenging to drive trucks on.
The council moves slowly and meticulously following a long established process. Mayor Jan Marx has said we should wait until January and bring this idea up at the budget goal setting workshop.
But I know that the plan, which has already been approved, does not get less complicated as it sits on a shelf. And that staff could immediately begin working out the specifics of excavating and fill dirt placement before we even have the permits.
The city could start the permit process now and dredge later or dredge in increments. The northern portion of the lake bed has tire tracks all over the place. It is now dry enough to drive on. If it becomes an issue, the city could use heavy duty access matting like mega deck.
Atascadero’s Deputy Public Works Director, David Athey, was recently on KCBX. He said the Water Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife were actually “quite helpful in accommodating and helping us get permits and speed the process up.”
How can the active park, where the fill dirt is supposed to go, have endangered species on it? We have been mowing, parking, mud running, disc-golfing and Renaissance fairing all over it.
The council has the ability to be flexible and think outside of the box and has done so before. Sometimes immediate action is required when presented with a rare opportunity- as in saving millions of dollars.
Waiting until January is wasting even more precious time that could be used researching the permit process.
I would like to know why can’t the council direct staff to begin planning the dredging project now. Plan where the first 30,000 cubic yards of fill are going to be removed from the lake bed and where on the active park it will be placed.
Why can’t the city start the permit process immediately. If an agency really does not plan on letting us dredge then we need to know now. It may be easier to get permits for smaller portions of excavation or fill dirt placement where there are no identified endangered species.
For years the city has said it wants to improve the lake. If that’s true why not do some of the work now while the city has the rare opportunity to save millions because the lake is dry.