Neighbors trying to stop river-rock removal
August 13, 2014
While flooding damage in northern Carson Valley has prompted some strong feelings about the lack of response, residents of one neighborhood said they would have preferred Douglas County had continued to ignore them.
Cobblestone in drainages on either side of Santa Cruz Drive was scooped up and hauled off as part of the county’s effort to clear the drainage ditches.
Resident Doug Bronzie said he spent Wednesday fighting with the heavy equipment operators to try and dissuade them from removing the material.
“I’m not going to let them tear up my rock,” he said. “They are hauling off thousands of dollars worth of rock.”
Bronzie and his neighbors gathered on their street Wednesday night to compare notes on the damage.
He said commissioner Barry Penzel came out to examine what happened along the street. Interim County Manager Larry Werner said county officials were there to meet with neighbors on Thursday.
While Douglas County required cobblestone on either side of Santa Cruz, officials said they’re not going to be able to clean the ditches and keep the rock.
Werner said he didn’t see anyway that the rock that has already been hauled off could be restored to owners.
“There is no way we can clean up those ditches without pulling out the rock,” he said. “And there’s no good way to recover that rock.”
Resident Tim Egan, who was the Realtor who sold the homes in Mission Hot Springs No. 3, said the county required the river rock in the first place.
Neighbors at the top of the street had substantial mud damage, but the rock prevented erosion damage along homes halfway down.
Resident John Heise said he had video on his phone of big rocks rolling down the street in the flood.
“It really shows you the power,” he said.
However, Bronzie contends that the flood hasn’t moved as much of the river rock as contractors have.
He said residents on nearby North Santa Barbara have already had their river rock hauled off.
“None of this needed to be done,” he said. “There are people who need these resources, but we were handling this part ourselves.”
Resident John Swain said as retirees, replacing the river rock in the drainage will be a financial challenge.
He pointed out a pink “X” that had been painted in front of his home by contractors indicating he’s next.
Werner said owners could get a permit to replace the rock, but it would be with the understanding that the rocks would be hauled off with the clean-up from a subsequent flood.
Werner said the subdivision was designed in 1991 with a requirement for 3-6 inches of cobblestone designed to allow infiltration of floodwaters along the roadway. The drainages were designed for a 10-year flood with 8-inch culverts.
Since its approval in 1991, the county increased project requirements to prepare for a 25-year flood, which includes 15-inch culverts.
But even that wouldn’t have survived the July 20 100-year-flood that came off Hot Springs Mountain and into the neighborhood.