SJWC found to have poor erosion control at Los Gatos Creek construction site

 The following report was written by an inspector for the Santa Clara Valley Water District concerning SJWC's poor erosion control at their roadwork construction site along Los Gatos Creek. Pictures of the site taken by the inspector as well as residents will be placed in the Album.

The shoddy practices at this construction site should cause everyone to question assurances by SJWC.

To summarize the findings of the inspection:

- There is no winterization plan for the construction site

- There is a high exposure to erosion at the construction site

- The plastic fence was deemed inadequate and the construction of a new and more robust fence to back up the collapsing fence was recommended.

- No straw has been layed down to protect dirt from running off into the creek.

To:       Vincent Stephens of Community Projects Review Unit
            Dale Jacques of Stream Water Quality Unit

From:   Tim O’Loughlin of the Guadalupe Watershed Field Operations
Date:    November 8, 2005
Subject: Report of a potential permit violation in Los Gatos Creek

On November 7, 2005 I received a phone call from Dale Honda of the Guadalupe Watershed Field Operation to investigate a complaint from Terry Clark of Los Gatos. She reported someone was illegally depositing dirt and woodchips into the creek upstream of Alma Bridge Rd. and Aldercroft Heights. I arrived at the site around 12:30 pm and met up with Michael Kirchner of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). Shortly afterwards Kurt Hoffman of the San Jose Water Company (SJW) and Chris Saul of West Valley Construction (WV) arrived. We discussed the concerns brought forth by the community, primarily the sloughing of loose material exiting the construction site getting into the creek. Michael of DFG had already walked the site and had a good understanding of the site conditions. There was a silt fence installed the length of the project to control sloughing. A concern was brought up that a single silt fence may not be adequate protection. So Kurt of SJW agreed to install another silt fence to provide secondary containment reinforced with metal T-Post, and install straw waddles to control the run off. This seemed to satisfy Michael of DFG. I asked if they had winterization plan and there was not.

At this point I ask permission to review the site to see the conditions for myself and I was escorted by Chris of WV. We entered the site just upstream of the bridge and walked to the end of the project at the old train trestle. The site appeared to be in good condition. The silt fence was in place and there was a high bench between the site and creek through the first part of the project. About midway I noticed some excess sloughing up against the silt fence that could be removed but the fence was still in place. At the end of the project the bank had been built up significantly. This is the area of most concern. Having this large unprotect earthen bank without having a winterization plan has the highest exposure for erosion. So I suggested to Chris of WV to provide some runoff protection. Chris explained the road would have a reverse grade back up toward the hillside to prevent water from running down the bank.

There were woodchips deposited in the bottom of the flood plain. Chris explained this was a miscommunication with the contractor and that the chips should have been disposed of off site. I didn’t see any impacts in having the woodchips within the floodplain.

In closing, the addition to the secondary containment silt fence reinforced with the T-post and installing straw waddles will improve the site conditions. Additionally, winterization the exposed earthed banks would be beneficial in preventing runoff and erosion.

Best Regards,
Tim O’Loughlin
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Guadalupe Watershed Field Operations

Kevin Flynn
November 9, 2005