By Karen Brainard
Several Ramona property owners learned what they can legally do on their own land to alleviate flooding from representatives of environmental agencies at a meeting on May 18 hosted by County Supervisor Dianne Jacob in her El Cajon office.
They learned there isn’t much they can do without a permit.
The property owners from the Kelly and Letton street area have complained of increased flooding on their lots over the years, sometimes as deep as three to four feet, during heavy rains. With a watercourse running through the properties that has accumulated debris, silt and vegetation, owners want to clean out the watercourse as a short-term drainage fix, but have feared they will violate environmental regulations.
“They want to do the right thing,” Jacob told representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, California State Fish and Game, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The owners learned they can hand-pick trash and debris from the watercourse or drainage area on their property, but beyond that, explanations and descriptions became muddied, prompting Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva to request the agencies develop a list of “do’s and don’ts.”
A shovel or backhoe could be used to remove debris, preferably from the banks, but they cannot push or drag material, an Army Corps representative said. In that case, a permit would be needed.
“If you have machinery pushing material, for us that would trigger a need for a permit,” the Army Corps representative said.
Application for a permit could take three months, according to Fish and Game.
Taking a grocery cart out of a culvert would not be an issue, Doreen Stadtlander from Fish and Wildlife said.
“But when you do start moving material around, possibly changing the hydrology of an area like a stream course or vernal pool…that’s when you really do need to contact Fish and Wildlife service or the county,” she said.
The property owners asked how they can identify a vernal pool, a contained depression in the ground that seasonally fills with water and provides habitat for numerous rare plants and animals. Vernal pools are considered a threatened ecosystem.
- Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva, left, holds a map of downtown Ramona as Ken Brazell with the county Department of Public Works, right, talks about identified flood projects at a meeting in Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office. Seated are Kristi Mansolf, planning group secretary, and Ramona property owners affected by flooding. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Afterward, property owner Dan Ruops thanked Jacob for hosting the meeting, saying, “I’m optimistic for the first time.”
Jerry Kathawa, another property owner, wasn’t so optimistic. He said water has been sitting on his property and he is being fined by the county. Kathawa said he has called the agencies before and didn’t think the meeting was very helpful other than putting the agencies in touch with each other.