San Diego community to receive protection from post-fire mudslides

The Del Dios Community, a small unincorporated area of San Diego, will be the site of erosion control work done through the Emergency Watershed Protection program in the aftermath of recent southern California fires. It is the first site to be protected using EWP following the disaster. Work will begin immediately. An additional factor in moving especially quickly on the Del Dios Project is that the sponsor, San Diego County Department of Public Works, was ready and willing to move quickly...

DAVIS, CA, Nov. 15, 2007 -- The Del Dios Community, a small unincorporated area of San Diego will be the site of erosion control work done through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program in the aftermath of the recent southern California fires. It is the first site to be protected using EWP following the disaster. Work will begin immediately.

"This site has 14 homes downslope from an area that was severely burned in the recent Witch Fire," says said Dave Heilig, Assistant State Conservationist for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers EWP. "We petitioned our Washington office for funds to protect the area as one in imminent danger as site conditions indicate that even a moderate amount of rainfall could trigger mud and debris flows capable of damaging the homes."

An additional factor in moving especially quickly on the Del Dios Project is that the sponsor, San Diego County Department of Public Works, was ready and willing to move quickly. "The County of San Diego is going to begin the erosion control work at this site starting Thursday, Nov. 15. We are very fortunate to be working side-by-side with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on this project. This is a challenging project but one that we need to get done before the rains," said Cid Tesoro, Program Manager for the County of San Diego. The project is anticipated to cost $125,000 with a 75:25 federal:local cost share.

An interagency team of erosion control experts identified the Del Dios site as one needing immediate attention. Protective measures will include a strategic placement of sandbags and k-rails to divert mud flows in order to protect the homes. Additionally, hydromulching -- applying a mix of water, wood fiber and a tackifier -- will be used immediately upslope from the homes in an attempt to stabilize a steep, fire-damaged hillside.

Dozens of additional sites are being examined in an interagency effort for possible similar erosion control protection, according to Heilig. Sites are examined for their specific needs and forwarded to the Agencies with appropriate authorities.

The EWP program is authorized by Congress to stabilize damaged watersheds in order to protect lives and property in the aftermath of natural disasters. All work is undertaken with a government sponsor and must be determined to be economically and environmentally defensible.

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