Friday, August 11, 2006

Ross Valley Watershed and Flood Protection Project update

The Ross Valley Watershed group, a joint effort of the County of Marin, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo and Fairfax, is working to reduce the risk of flooding in the entire Ross Valley. Today, I attended a meeting of the group’s Finance Committee, which I serve on.

We learned that the award of bid for the comprehensive hydrology study is going to be made soon, with a preliminary report of findings to be unveiled at a public forum meeting scheduled for Saturday, October 21st. The hydrolic modeling contract is being paid for by $130,000 in grant funding secured by the County. With that information in place, the technical experts can make recommendations on what work should be done to reduce the risk of flooding.

The Ross Valley Watershed group is also focusing on short, medium and long-term solutions. For the short term, the group has enlisted the help of the Marin Conservation Corps to do a large vegetation cleanup throughout the entire creek early this fall. This will include Fairfax and will be a comprehensive clearing of the creeks of debris that would cause back-ups this winter.

For the long term, we know that solutions to the flooding problem are going to require significant amounts of money. The Ross Valley Watershed Group is already applying for numerous grants, but matching funds will be required to be contributed by the county and municipalities. The Financial Committee, made up of the City/Town Managers and the County Public Works Director, is exploring the possibility of a Ross Valley wide benefit assessment district to fund the requirement for grant matches.

Information was shared about the process for including Fairfax and San Anselmo in Flood Zone 9. This would require a “resolution of consent” to be adopted by both towns. I have asked the County flood engineer staff and the consultant MIG to be present at our October Council meeting to give us a preview of the public meeting on October 21st and also explain the reasoning for needing us to be included in Flood Zone 9, which is a prelude to the assessment ballot election which is aimed for March 2007. At our November Council meeting, the Town Council can consider the resolution of consent.

It is important for us all to remember that flooding problems must be addressed watershed wide. For example, if one town makes changes without taking into account all the relevant data, it could adversely affect those downstream. That’s why it’s important that we work together to get to solutions to our common problem. I am happy to report that this project is moving forward with the cooperation of all the towns in the watershed.

For more information, see the Ross Valley Watershed website at