The Central Valley Regional Water Board 2020 Homelessness Project
The Central Valley Water Board is embarking on a collaborative effort with municipalities, agency groups, homeless advocacy groups, concerned citizens and the public to address water quality issues created by homelessness. The Board recognizes that homelessness is one of the most challenging issues facing many American communities, and that people experiencing homelessness often do not have access to shelter, safe drinking water, or sanitation services. In this project, the Board will work with partners to address both water quality issues and public health concerns, which is consistent with the Board’s commitment to the Human Right to Water.
As the Board visits various sites in the region as part of our mission to protect water quality, we cannot ignore the water quality risks caused, in part, by the homeless population living near and around sensitive water bodies. However, the Board endeavors to address these water quality issues with the maximum degree of compassion for the individuals that have created encampments alongside streams, rivers and other waterways. The Central Valley Water Board has developed a task list to meet these challenges, as described below.
Table of Contents
Click one of the following links for more information on each project.
- Steelhead Creek Trash Removal Project
- Mobile Sanitation Unit
- Mapping Homeless Encampments
- Sacramento Public Outreach Meeting
- Stockton Parcel Owner Mapping Project
- Stockton Trash Mapping Project
- Stockton Homeless Camp Clean-ups
- Lower American River Parkway - (Priority Project)
- Homeless Grievances
- Environmental Justice Groups Meeting
- Camping Set Back Project
Steelhead Creek Trash Removal Project
The Central Valley Water Board is working with multiple MS4s, flood control agencies and watershed groups to clean up and restore the habitat in Steelhead Creek.
- One clean-up in 2018 - Removed 120 tons of trash.
- One clean-up in 2019 - Cleaned-up same general area removed 60 tons of trash
- Funding provided by the City of Sacramento, Sacramento Area Sewer District and Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, Reclamation District No. 1000 and the American River Flood Control District.
- Additional clean-up planned for 2020
- Plan to distribute trash bags and pick up the bags of trash during the summer months. This effort is to see if we can reduce the volume of trash in the area by working with people experiencing homelessness to bag their own trash. Bagged trash can then be easily removed by maintenance personnel.
- Planning for restoration of the creek underway.
- Plan to utilize horses to clean up creek channel during low flow conditions.
- Funding provided by the City of Sacramento, Sacramento Area Sewer District and Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, Reclamation District No 1000 and the American River Flood Control District.
Mobile Sanitation Unit
The Central Valley Water Board is developing a proposal to assist municipalities to both build and deploy mobile sanitation and shower units (example of sanitation unit shown below). Water Board staff has been working closely with Lava Mae and several interested parties to fund and complete the project. The project would provide both shower and sanitation services for the homeless. Some initial efforts include:
- The Central Valley Water Board has visited Lava Mae in Oakland and coordinated with Lava Mae on design and construction costs.
- The Central Valley Water Board is coordinating the search for an agency or group to build and run the mobile sanitation unit.
- Funding source: In development
Mapping Homeless Encampments
This effort is working with Keep California Beautiful and Sacramento State University to map homeless encampments in Sacramento and portions of Placer County. The mapping is needed to identify hot spots and prioritize areas to be cleaned-up. The information is critical to provide MS4s and concerned parties with updated information. Some details include:
- Have completed Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) application for mapping project.
- SEP will be posted on new website.
- Funding Source: In development
Sacramento Public Outreach Meeting
Several years ago, the Central Valley Water Board and other agencies held a public outreach meeting to identify issues associated with people experiencing homelessness. The meeting was very informative and helpful. The plan is to schedule a follow-up meeting to make the stakeholders aware of our efforts and to seek additional understanding and solutions. Specifically, the meeting will discuss regional issues and how we can collaborate to address those issues. A few details on the horizon include:
- Stakeholder meeting to be scheduled in late 2020 or early 2021.
- Funding Source: In development
Stockton Parcel Owner Mapping Project
The Central Valley Water Board is working with the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) to provide a map of the waterways and parcel owners located in the Stockton area. This information will help the Water Board identify property owned by State and Federal Agencies. We will then contact those agencies to help facilitate clean-up activities in the Stockton area. Some considerations worth mentioning include:
- Have completed preliminary map.
- Will coordinate with City of Stockton and San Joaquin County to identify parcel owners.
- The map will be used to identify responsible parties.
Stockton Trash Mapping Project
The Central Valley Waterboard is partnering with Keep California Beautiful and Sacramento State University to map homeless encampments in the Stockton area. Given the significant number of encampments throughout the area the information is critical to help direct limited resources. Details to remember include:
- Developed a cost estimate for the mapping Calaveras River Area.
- 2020 Goal: identify funding source for the project.
- Funding Source: In development
Stockton Area Agency Homeless Task Force
The Central Valley Water Board in conjunction with the State Board’s Office of Public Participation is requesting the formation of a Stockton Area Agency Homeless Task Force. The task force is a collaborative partnership between state and local agencies in the Stockton area. The task force will address multiple issues related to homelessness including: COVID-19 issues, sanitation, safe camping and/or housing locations, coordination of clean-up activities, and identifying funding sources to support the efforts.
The first task force meeting was held in May 2020.
Lower American River Parkway
The Central Valley Water Board is working with Sacramento County Parks, the Sacramento Storm Water partnership, and Southern California Coastal Water Research Project on an E coli source identification study in the Lower American River.
- Funding Source: Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership, Sacramento Area Sewer District, and Sacramento County Regional Parks, as well as in-kind support from the Central Valley Water Board.
Stockton Homeless Camp Clean-ups
Central Valley Water Board staff observed a recent major homeless camp clean-up effort conducted by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. Witnessing this clean-up effort aided staff in understanding some of the unique issues associated with homeless encampments in the Stockton area. Some aspects of this effort include:
- Attending a recent Encampment Response Team (ERT) meeting. During the meeting, we discussed successful models for clean-ups.
- Plans are to attend additional meetings and work with Sheriff’s office.
- The Central Valley Water Board is working with the Central Valley Flood Control District and Sheriff’s Office on clean-up of Cross Canal.
- Future partnership planned with the City of Stockton.
- Funding Source: Various
The Central Valley Water Board is tracking homeless grievances on a database and, whenever possible, working with municipalities to respond to complaints impacting water quality. If property is owned by an irrigation district, or a state or federal agency we have been reaching out to flood control districts and agencies to pass along complaints and, if possible, assist MS4s, flood control districts and agencies with clean-up efforts.
Environmental Justice Groups Meeting
The Central Valley Water Board has been meeting with numerous EJ groups and other concerned persons to discuss homeless-related issues and to seek solutions to the water quality impacts created by those experiencing homelessness. A few details to remember include:
- Additional meetings scheduled.
- This will be an ongoing effort.
- Funding source: N/A
Camping Setback Project
The Central Valley Water Board is working on a pilot project that would consider limits on camping in some sensitive habitats adjacent to creeks and water bodies. For example, this project may consider making recommendations to local agencies that establish minimum setback distances for camping near ecologically sensitive waterbodies. This would limit the impacts to riparian areas and facilitate easier collection of trash and debris left from campers. Moreover, minimum setbacks would help protect both water quality and campers.
A few details to remember include:
- Working on preliminary information to develop proposal.
- Funding source: NA
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