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Environmental Services

Overview

The Environmental Services division of the Public Works Department is responsible for resource management, permitting, and environmental compliance. The Environmental Services division is subdivided into Natural Resources, Water Management, and Natural Resources Planning.

Natural Resources

The Natural Resources division performs environmental review and permitting for Public Works projects and operations, to support Humboldt County’s commitment to environmental stewardship and appropriate resource management.

The division manages environmental regulatory compliance and coordinates with Public Works management and staff on environmental practices and resource management involving county roads, bridges, airports, buildings, parks, levees, gravel mining and quarry rock extraction, solid waste facilities, and county-managed natural areas and open space.

The division works with engineering and maintenance staff to incorporate environmental constraints and considerations into planning and design. The division prepares environmental review documents required by federal and state funding agencies; directs and administers specialized technical studies to assess potential environmental impacts; identifies measures to avoid and minimize impacts; develops feasible mitigation measures; and supports the environmental permitting process.

The division manages the closed municipal landfill at Table Bluff and environmental aspects of the County’s franchise solid waste facilities (Redway Transfer Station and 11 container sites). The Table Bluff landfill is equipped with a leachate collection and treatment system.

Humboldt County Public Works participates in the Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program to protect water quality and stream habitat during maintenance of county roads and maintenance facilities ( http://www.5counties.org/ ).

Water Management

The Water Management division manages three levee systems, implements storm water pollution prevention programs, and leads or provides technical assistance for various projects involving water resources.

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.

The three county-managed levee systems are located on Redwood Creek in Orick, Mad River in Blue Lake, and Eel River in Fortuna (Sandy Prairie). These levees were constructed as federal flood control projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s and 1960s and then conveyed to Humboldt County for operation and maintenance.

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 2014.

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.

Humboldt County Public Works administers a storm water 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.

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted the current version of the NPDES general permit in February 2013, which was developed under Phase II of the federal storm water program for municipalities serving populations less than 100,000, and is often referenced as the Phase II Small MS4 General Permit. As designated by the current Phase II Small MS4 General Permit, Humboldt County is required to implement storm water program elements for the unincorporated Eureka area and the communities of McKinleyville and Shelter Cove (maps provided below).

As part of the storm water program, Humboldt County participates in the North Coast Storm Water Coalition which helps coordinate regional storm water management efforts.
A toll free regional stormwater hotline operated by the North Coast Stormwater Coalition can be called at 1-877-NCSC-001 to report active pollution or other stormwater concerns. More information on the North Coast Stormwater Coalition is available at the following website: http://www.northcoaststormwatercoalition.org.

Storm Water Documents and Links

Humboldt County Public Works completed a bioengineering stream bank 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.

Natural Resources Planning

Contact us

The mailing address for Humboldt County Public Works is 1106 2nd Street, Eureka, CA 95501. (707) 445-7741

Hank Seemann, Deputy Director (Environmental Services)
hseemann@co.humboldt.ca.us

Andrew Bundschuh, Senior Environmental Analyst
abundschuh@co.humboldt.ca.us

Doug Dinsmore, Environmental Analyst
ddinsmore@co.humboldt.ca.us

Todd Becker, Environmental Analyst
tbecker@co.humboldt.ca.us

Don Tuttle (Archives, Historical Research)
dtuttle@co.humboldt.ca.us

Jennifer Jenkins Kuszmar, Supervising Planner
jjenkins@co.humboldt.ca.us

Cybelle Immitt, Senior Planner
cimmitt@co.humboldt.ca.us

Devin Theobald, Administrative Analyst II
dtheobald@co.humboldt.ca.us

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