Water Management staff manage three levee systems, implement storm water pollution prevention programs, and lead or provide technical assistance for various projects involving water resources. Levee system management and stormwater programs are continual responsibilities, while other projects are developed based on available funding, needs, and opportunities. Funding for Water Management comes from the County’s General Fund and federal and State grants. Other typical Water Management projects include habitat restoration, flood risk reduction, consultation on dam removal projects, and participation in regional planning initiatives involving water resources.
- Levee and Flood Management
- Stormwater Program
- Sea Level Rise
- Klamath Settlement Agreements
- Special Projects
Redwood Creek Levee (Orick)
The Redwood Creek Flood Control Project consists of a system of two earthen embankment levees along the lower 3.4 miles of Redwood Creek. The project was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1966 to 1968 to protect the community of Orick from floodwaters, in response to a series of flood events that occurred in 1950, 1953, 1955 and 1964. Construction included excavation and enlargement of the channel to a target geometry and placement of earthen levee embankments along each bank. Humboldt County performs levee operation and maintenance.
Redwood Creek Estuary Restoration and Levee Rehabilitation Conceptual Design Project (2012-2014)
Humboldt County completed a planning study which developed conceptual designs for a multiple-objective project on lower Redwood Creek and estuary that would achieve estuary restoration and levee rehabilitation. Funding was provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly Department of Fish and Game) through the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program. The approach to this planning study focused on facilitating stakeholder dialogue and improving the understanding of natural processes, desired conditions, and potentially feasible project concepts. The final report is posted here under the following title: Redwood Creek Estuary Restoration and
Levee Rehabilitation Conceptual Design Project.
Construction of the Flood Control Project caused major physical changes to the lower reach of Redwood Creek and its estuary. Estuary volume has been reduced by over one-half of its pre-levee size due to sediment deposition, and fish habitat and water quality have been severely impaired. The net result has been a reduction in the ecological function of the estuary in terms of productivity and survival of fish and other aquatic species. Restoration of hydraulic, sediment transport, and floodplain processes is needed to help the estuary regain some of its former form, function, resiliency, and productivity.
The Flood Control Project is impaired by the deposition of large volumes of sediment, which has reduced the project’s flood capacity from the level of protection specified by Congress. Construction of the levees also reduced the ability of North and South Sloughs to flush sediment, which contributes to flooding of adjacent privately owned pastures and public roads. A fundamental rehabilitation of the Flood Control Project is needed to accommodate sediment inflow and achieve an acceptable level of flood protection that can be sustained with normal maintenance. Improvements are needed to regain active status in the Corps of Engineers Rehabilitation and Inspection Program and achieve certification and accreditation on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map.
The lower Redwood Creek valley contains privately owned agricultural land adjacent to the Flood Control Project. Conceptual designs were developed with the goal of maintaining agricultural productivity and limiting the net loss of agricultural land use to the greatest extent possible while meeting other project goals. The project will need to find an acceptable balance between agricultural productivity, ecological restoration, and flood protection benefits. It is assumed that affected private landowners would be fairly compensated for impacts associated with levee modifications. In addition, the project would need to be consistent with the resource protection and preservation responsibilities of the National Park Service for affected federal land in Redwood National Park.
Recommended next steps include continued stakeholder dialogue; additional data collection and technical studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the conceptual alternatives identified in this report; and continued efforts to obtain a Congressional appropriation for the Army Corps of Engineers to perform a General Investigation Study.
Mad River Levee (Blue Lake)
The Mad River Flood Protection Project is located near the confluence of the Mad River and the Mad River North Fork, along the right bank of each waterway for a total length of 1.6 miles, near the Hatchery Road bridge at the southern end of the city of Blue Lake. The levee was constructed in phases by the Army Corps of Engineers starting in 1954 and reaching completion in 1963. The levee is composed of an earthen embankment with rock-slope protection on the river side. Humboldt County and the City of Blue Lake share responsibility for levee operation and maintenance.
Blue Lake Levee Evaluation Project (2013-2015)
Humboldt County and City of Blue Lake initiated a geotechnical investigation with financial assistance from the Department of Water Resources’ Local Levee Assistance Program to characterize subsurface soil conditions and analyze levee performance. The project will assess the stability of the levee embankment and foundation and determine the potential for settlement, seepage, underseepage, or erosion to cause instability under base flood (1%-annual-chance flow) conditions. The results of the project will assist Humboldt County and the City of Blue Lake in assessing the public safety risks associated with the levee and in determining whether the levee meets the embankment and foundation stability requirements of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program standards at 44 CFR 65.10. The final report is posted here under the following title: Blue Lake Levee Geotechnical Evaluation Project City of Blue Lake & Humboldt County California. In addition, a technical memorandum with supporting hydraulic information may be downloaded Here.
Eel River Levee (Fortuna)
The Eel River Flood Control Project at Sandy Prairie is located along the right bank of the Eel River, with extensions along Strongs Creek and the Van Duzen River, near the city of Fortuna. The levee was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1959. The total length of levee is approximately four miles.
In 2011, Humboldt County received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to perform detailed hydraulic analyses and floodplain mapping for the communities of Orick and Blue Lake which are each protected by levees. Levees are critical infrastructure for the protection of life and property, and floodplain maps are important tools for representing and communicating the risk of floods. The standards for analyzing and mapping the flood hazards behind a levee are being updated by FEMA. Areas mapped as Zone A (Special Flood Hazard Area) on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are subject to special building standards and may be subject to flood insurance requirements. The work products from this project will be incorporated by FEMA into the updated Flood Insurance Rate Map and Flood Insurance Study for these communities which are expected to be issued by FEMA in 2015.
Humboldt County Public Works administers a stormwater management program to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the storm sewer systems and associated receiving waters as regulated by the federal Clean Water Act through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.
Municipal Stormwater Permit and Low Impact Development Standards
In February 2013, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted the current version of the “MS4 Permit” which applies to stormwater discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). The purpose of the MS4 Permit is to control the discharge of pollutants to storm sewer systems which ultimately drain to natural waterways. The state has stipulated that the MS4 Permit applies to McKinleyville, the unincorporated Eureka area, and Shelter Cove (County of Humboldt Phase II MS4 Boundary Maps).
The MS4 Permit requires that the County require certain development projects to comply with post-construction stormwater requirements based on “low impact development” standards. These standards are intended to maintain a site’s pre-development runoff characteristics by using design techniques that capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater on site. These standards will be effective starting July 1, 2015.
The MS4 General Permit specifies two size classes for post-construction requirements. Projects that create and/or replace 2,500 to 5,000 square feet of impervious surface (“small projects”) will need to implement one or more designated site design measures to reduce project site runoff. Examples of site design measures include disconnection of rooftop drainage from impervious areas, tree planting and preservation, rain barrels, vegetated swales, and porous pavement. Projects that create and/or replace 5,000 square feet or more of impervious surface (“regulated projects”) will need to implement site design measures based on more detailed procedures and demonstrate compliance with runoff reduction thresholds. Some projects may be required to construct bioretention facilities. In addition, projects in the larger size category will need to comply with source control measures to minimize the contact between pollutants and stormwater runoff.
Procedures, standards, and specifications for implementing the post-construction requirements of the MS4 Permit are contained in the Humboldt Low Impact Development Stormwater Manual V2.0. This manual will also be used by the Cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, and Trinidad for compliance with the MS4 Permit. Humboldt LID Stormwater Manual V2.0 and associated documents are available on the North Coast Stormwater Coalition website.
North Coast Stormwater Coalition
Humboldt County participates in the North Coast Stormwater Coalition which coordinates regional storm water management efforts. A toll free regional stormwater hotline operated by the North Coast Stormwater Coalition can be called at 1-707-2STORM2 to report active pollution or other stormwater concerns.
The North Coast Stormwater Coalition works collaboratively with North Coast California county and city governments to reduce stormwater pollution and protect local watersheds. Coalition members include stormwater management staff from the participating Cities of Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna, Ft. Bragg, Trinidad and Yreka, the Counties of Humboldt and Mendocino, and Humboldt State University, as well as representatives of other local, state, and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes, the CA State and Regional Water Boards, consultants, engineers, and interested community members. We are a robust group that meets monthly, with public education and outreach events and workshops occurring throughout the year.
More information is provided on the North Coast Stormwater Coalition website.
Documents for Viewing and Download:
- County of Humboldt Phase II MS4 General Permit Boundary Maps
- Storm Water and the Construction Industry - Best Management Practices Poster
- Humboldt Low Impact Development Stormwater Manual V2.0
The following State and Federal websites contain technical and regulatory information regarding Municipal, Construction, and Industrial stormwater programs and stormwater pollution prevention resources.
- California State Water Resources Control Board – Stormwater Programs Webpage
- US EPA Stormwater Homepage
Humboldt County is a signatory party to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a set of agreements signed in February 2010 with the intent of providing a framework for resolving the most contentious disputes involving dams and water diversions in the Klamath River basin. The Klamath River flows through Humboldt County for approximately 60 miles of its 263-mile-long course. The presence of dams on the upper Klamath River (three in Siskiyou County and one in Oregon) have cut off fish habitat and adversely affected water quality, which has contributed to declining fish runs and caused fishery closures. Humboldt County’s primary interests in the Klamath settlement process have been to improve Klamath River stream flow conditions, protect the county’s commercial and recreational fishery interests, and alleviate the hardships to fishing and tribal communities.
Resources for addition details:
Humboldt County supports the Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project, a collaborative effort between private landowners, non-profit organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies to restore fish habitat, improve water quality, and alleviate flooding impacts. The Salt River project is distinctive for the scale of the restoration, the complexity of the issues, and its commitment to being community- and partnership-based. The project encompasses the Salt River, Francis Creek, and Williams Creek which suffer from severe sedimentation and hydraulic dysfunction. The project is coordinated by the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District.
Humboldt County Public Works provided technical assistance from 2007 through 2009 with funding from the State Coastal Conservancy .
Humboldt County Public Works operates a monitoring station on Francis Creek at Van Ness Avenue in Ferndale. The station collects continues data for water stage and turbidity and has an auto-sampler to collect water samples for laboratory testing of suspended sediment - Data are available on-line. The data are analyzed to develop annual loading estimates to support planning and design for the Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project and county road maintenance activities.
Mad River Bluff Streambank Protection Project:Humboldt County Public Works completed a bioengineering streambank stabilization project in 2008 along the right bank of the lower Mad River, with funding from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and adjacent landowners.
Humboldt County Public Works is coordinating the regional response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which was signed by Governor Brown in September 2014. The legislation applies to groundwater basins designated as medium- or high-priority by the California Department of Water Resources. Humboldt County has one medium-priority basin (Eel River Valley) and no high-priority basins. The Groundwater Act requires formation of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency for the Eel River Valley groundwater basin by June 30, 2017, and preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan by 2022.
Please Note: Answers to submitted questions for the Geological Services RFP can be downloaded here (prepared June 9, 2016)
- February 24, 2015: Staff Report and Presentation to the Board of Supervisors.
- April 27, 2015: Workshop on groundwater in the Eel River Valley (Workshop Announcement, Presentation, and Summary).
- May 20, 2015: Presentation to the Eel River Forum.
- October 6, 2015: Staff Report to the Board of Supervisors.
- October 21, 2015: First Working Group meeting (Agenda and Meeting Materials and Minutes).
- December 14, 2015: Second Working Group meeting (Agenda and Meeting Materials and Minutes).
- February 22, 2016: Third Working Group meeting (Agenda and Meeting Materials and Minutes).
- April 25, 2016: Fourth Working Group meeting (Agenda and Meeting Materials and Minutes)
- September 12, 2016: Fifth Working Group meeting (Agenda and Meeting Materials and Minutes)
- The next meeting will take place on November 7, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. All meetings take place at the University of California Cooperative Extension office located at 5630 South Broadway, Eureka, CA.
Eel River Valley Groundwater Basin Assessment Project
Humboldt County Public Works has issued Requests for Proposals for professional geologic services and drilling services. Proposals are due by 4:00 p.m. on June 15, 2016.
Eel River Valley Groundwater Working Group
The Eel River Valley Groundwater Working Group was convened in October 2015 to provide public input on groundwater management for the Eel River Valley. The purpose of the Working Group is to:
- Provide information and viewpoints regarding groundwater issues in the Eel River Valley.
- Support the collection and analysis of groundwater data to understand conditions and trends.
- Provide input on an application for funds from a California Department of Water Resources Proposition 1 grant program to support local groundwater planning efforts.
- Discuss the selection and formation of the Groundwater Sustainable Agency.
- Discuss the framework and management objectives of the future Groundwater Sustainability Plan.
To put your name on the contact list, send an e-mail to Robert Vogt