By Frank Landis, Chairperson Conservation Committee
Wow, what a busy winter. As I write this, I'm checking the news periodically to see whether the Oroville Dam fails, or whether the engineers keep the Sacramento Valley from trying to turn back into the "Inland Sea" it was before the 1920s. This is hopefully irrelevant, but I have my doubts, because I'm reading the EIR for Merge 56, the first development slated for the eastern edge of Del Mar Mesa. The problem isn't particularly a CNPS concern. Their design, as I feared, has Deer Creek routed through a basin and storm drain through a pile of fill, and because the channel at that point makes a "Z," the culvert turns at a sharp angle from the upstream and downstream flows. Atop that fill is the southward extension of Camino Del Sur. I've protested this design for years, because most of the watershed above Deer Creek is paved over by Rancho Peñasquitos. As a result, we don't really know how high that creek can flood. While we can make some guesses based on 100 year floods and so forth, I keep wondering how it will handle a tropical storm or hurricane, or even a big atmospheric river getting weepy. Presumably their system will clog and the water will start chewing through the fill holding up Camino Del Sur. If the road/dam breaches, all the crap goes down canyon, chewing up those Nuttall's scrub oaks I've been trying to protect for years. Nothing big like Oroville, but as with the Oroville Dam's problems, which were predicted by environmental groups in 2005 (and ignored), it's a fairly predictable disaster.