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Press
Dredge Dumping Redux! Samoa Beach Proposed for Sludge Disposal Once Again
Written by Delia Bense-Kang, Lost Coast Outpost   

 

2/28/17

 

Nearly a decade ago, a lack of planning combined with a dire need for dredging in Humboldt Bay erupted into controversy. While everyone agreed the channels needed to be cleared, the proposed dumping of dredge material on Samoa Beach divided the community with fishermen on one side and recreational beach goers on the other.

 

Today we find ourselves in almost the exact same situation. Dredging of Humboldt Bay has once again become an undeniably urgent matter, and Samoa Beach has once again been proposed as the best disposal option. Unfortunately, despite having 10 years to find a long-term solution, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District and City of Eureka are just beginning to present to the public options for disposing of dredge spoils from their marinas.

 

Back in 2007, the Harbor District insisted on ignoring EPA guidance and instead asked to dump 200,000 cubic yards of bay sludge on Samoa Beach a popular surf spot and access point known as “Power Poles.” Due to the state of emergency the district had allowed to happen, the California Coastal Commission reluctantly approved the pumping of bay mud through a pipe over the dunes, where it spewed out onto Samoa Beach. But the Commission, along with the U.S. EPA and California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, made clear that any future projects must be better planned and that a similar project would not be a viable option. In 2008, the Coastal Commission reasserted this stance (No dredge spoils on beach, agency insists – Eureka Times-Standard).

 

With so much disapproval from permitting agencies and the public last time around, why is Samoa Beach even being considered an option for dumping again? In his presentation to the Eureka City Council on Tuesday, Eureka Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery described Samoa Beach as being “the best option” for disposal due to the comparatively low cost, its ability to accommodate high volumes of dredge material and being the “least environmentally damaging feasible alternative.” He also briefly described other possible locations for the dredge spoils, including:

  • Using it as fill for wetland restoration projects,
  • Open ocean disposal at the approved site three miles offshore,
  • Flow-lane” disposal,
  • Ocean disposal through the Redwood Marine Terminal’s 1½ mile long outfall,
  • Upland disposal at one of two sites on the North Spit,
  • And the temporary outfall at Samoa Beach.

“Some progress has been made since 2007 – the Harbor District now owns a dredge and the ocean outfall at the former pulp mill. But much more needs to be done to develop a long-term solution,” said Jennifer Kalt, Director of Humboldt Baykeeper. “Putting forward a plan to dump spoils on Samoa Beach yet again was premature, since the permitting agencies have not yet been consulted.”

 

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Eureka City Council agrees to move forward with dredging options
Written by Natalya Estrada, Times-Standard   

2/23/17

 

The Eureka City Council along with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District explored several options Tuesday evening for disposing of the dredge materials from Humboldt Bay.

 

Miles Slattery, Eureka Parks and Recreation director, said they are proposing to significantly reduce the amount of volume disposed on the beach by picking locations that will have less of an environmental impact.

 

“We’re looking at options that have the least environmental damage,” Slattery said. “We had nine different disposal options reviewed and depending on which one is chosen we can either start dredging in the summer or winter of this year.”

 

Slattery said if the council and harbor district decide on in-bay disposal, ocean outfall or an extension of a 1.5-mile long pipeline to the ocean, they would need to perform those in the summertime to avoid impacting the coho salmon coming into the bay. If they were going with a plan that disposes sludge on the beach, then they would start in the winter to take advantage of the high surf and tides that would carry the material out to sea.

 

During the public comment period, Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt said every alternative mentioned will require permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Coastal Commission at a minimum.

 

“City staff needs to meet with permitting agencies altogether within the same room,” Kalt said. “Pitting constituents against each other is not going to result in the quickest dredging. ... The idea of having multiple permits for multiple disposal sites seems like wishful thinking at this point because it’s been 10 years and they haven’t even come up with one solution.”

 

Kalt also said in previous dredging proposals in 2008, the Coastal Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency made it clear that they would not permit beach disposal again.

 

The earlier dredging project set to occur 10 years ago stirred up controversy with environmental groups about toxins within the dredge spoils. Those toxins, however, were not confirmed by tests. The EPA also objected to disposing of the materials on sandy beaches.

 

According to Humboldt Baykeeper in 2008, nearly 200,00 cubic yards of sludge was dumped on Samoa Beach, something the EPA and CDFW said would not be a viable option in future projects.

 

Surfrider Humboldt’s foundation chairwoman Delia Bense-Kang also said it was important to consider that nearly 50 to 100 people visit Samoa Beach everyday and that disposing of material on beaches was not a good idea.

 

Prior to commenting she asked the audience to raise their hands to show how many people were surfers who utilize Samoa Beach for recreation purposes.

 

“There’s been a lot of time for a better plan to move forward. Like I said, I was in middle school last time this was an issue. We need to work toward a long-term solution,” Bense-Kang said.

 

Eureka City Council members reacted to the dredging with concern but also agreed that something had to be done immediately.

 

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Love Thy Coast, Humboldt
Written by Delia Bense-Kang, Lost Coast Outpost   

1/31/17

 

This was going to be an article about how our coasts and oceans are now more than ever, under threat due to our nations political leadership. But I think we already know that.

 

Instead, this is an article reminding us how much love there is for our coasts and oceans. This is a compilation of quotes and pictures from leaders in our community, stating why they work tirelessly everyday, to make sure our coasts and oceans are kept beautiful, protected, and open for all to enjoy. I hope this montage provides some inspiration and motivation, and reminds us how lucky we are to live on the North Coast, and how important it is to keep working together. 

 

“Half of the people in the world live within 50 miles of the coast, and far more than half here in Humboldt. I have lived most of my life within a few miles of the coast. People are drawn to coastal areas for a reason; they are beautiful and awe-inspiring, so full of life - and they are the best wild food sources on the planet, if we take care of them. We certainly need to do better, but there is a reason that anything that would harm the coast is the “third rail” of California politics. In the 1980s, it was offshore oil drilling; in 2003, it was a Liquified Natural Gas import facility. In 2015, it was gold ore processing. Whatever the future brings, we will protect our coast from further degradation.” - Jennifer Kalt, Director, Humboldt Baykeeper

 

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Clean Water Rule Not Strong Enough, Enviros Tell 6th Circuit Court
Written by Stan Parker, Law360   

11/2/16

 

Law360, New York (November 2, 2016, 11:16 PM EDT) -- Waterkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups urged the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday to make the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps Engineers fortify the Clean Water Rule, a controversial regulation also under attack from states, municipalities and industry groups. 

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Tests track beach bacteria
Written by Natalya Estrada, Times-Standard   

Officials: Wait 28-48 hours after major storm before swimming in streams, rivers


11/1/16

 

The mouth of the Mad River and Clam, Luffenholtz, Moonstone, and Trinidad State beaches all had some level of coliform but none of them exceeded limits or were considerable enough to shut down the beaches, according to Humboldt County officials, who recently performed its last water quality testing of the season.

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