In October, the Journal reported issues regarding stream interference tests that were performed for the City of Morro Bay. The objective of the tests was to obtain a waiver that would have allowed the City to use its Chorro Valley wells when the stream flow was less than 1.4 cubic feet per second. That limit was established by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in Board decision 1633. Shortly after the failed test, the consultants and the City were cited by the SWRCB because, in the process of conducting the test, the consultants had violated decision 1633 – the very decision from which the City was attempting to obtain the waiver.
As noted in the Journal article, The Strange Saga of Morro Bay's Stream Interference Study, "Despite the failure of the 2009 Chorro Valley stream interference test, which was invalidated because the stream was dry at the time of testing, the City of Morro Bay has continued to use the consulting firm that performed the 2009 work." The article also reported that, "In June, 2010, the stream flow was at an acceptable level, and a second attempt at the stream interference test was in progress when it was interrupted by a visit from a Department of Fish and Game agent, who reportedly informed those present that the consultants and the City had failed to obtain the necessary permits."
A Department of Fish and Game report, titled, "Biological Injury Assessment, Cleath-Harris Geologists/City of Morro Bay Chorro Creek Violation " has been obtained by the Journal. The report includes the investigating agent's opinion that, " . . . the unpermitted installation of the two weir and flume structures and the excavation of the right bank of the stream could adversely impact fish and other aquatic life in Chorro Creek and downstream waters, and presents a threat to aquatic species including but not limited to southern steelhead and California red-legged frogs found near the site. This is because sediment entering the channel can become entrained in the water column and pass downstream, and can be deleterious to fish and other aquatic species. . . . "
The agent indicated that at one location, he had observed gravel and sand that had been placed along the downstream edge of the weir and around the outside of the flume. He noted that he had also seen an area along one bank that appeared to have been excavated, and estimated that, "approximately 150 cubic feet (5.5 cubic yards) of sediment had been removed from the bank and placed along the downstream and outside edges of the weir and flume." At another test site reported by the agent, "it appeared that approximately 60 cubic feet (2.2 cubic yards) of sediment had been excavated from the site and placed in the stream channel along the plywood weir and flume."
As noted in the October Journal article, ". . . it appears that thus far Morro Bay taxpayers have paid $60,054.81 for a stream interference test project that was originally supposed to cost $25,000 and that was to have included the writing of a report on the test findings. No report has been produced and now, a report is evidently not expected for 'several years,' and errors have put the City in danger of being fined by the SWRCB for the 2009 violation." Because the DFG agent's report title included the term "Cleath-Harris Geologists/City of Morro Bay Chorro Creek Violation," there is some concern among residents who have seen the report that action could be taken against the City. The Journal will continue to follow this story and report any new developments.