Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Supervisor Haggerty Says Feds Cost Alameda County $860k In Regulatory Flap

Nov. 22, 2011 | A difference of opinion between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Alameda County Public Works Department cost the county $860,000, Supervisor Scott Haggerty said Tuesday.

In June 2010, the Board of Supervisors approved a $2.6 million desilting project that would transfer soil from two separate flood control locations in Fremont to the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward.

Instead of working concurrently with two contractors for work due to be completed within a short time frame, the county decided to consolidate the contracts. The Army Corps of Engineers, however, stopped the county from proceeding with filling the 13.4 acre borrow ditch in Hayward until one of two the desilting projects in Fremont was completed.

In a staff report, Public Works Director Daniel Woldesenbet said, "By not being allowed to work at both project sites simulataneously, the District was not able to fulfill its environmental mitigation requirements of using sediments from Zone 6 desilting activities."

The county was forced to purchase clean fill material from an outside source at $860,000 to complete the project in Hayward, said Woldesenbet. In effect, the county was forced to purchase additional soil which it already possessed in Fremont. Public Works says it has no destination yet for the excess soil.

"The bottom line is the fed cost us $860,000 because they refused to work with us. Is that what I'm hearing?" said Haggerty, who represents Fremont. "That's correct," said Woldesenbet.

Holding off on the projects would not have helped save money, either, said Woldesenbet. "In order to get the credit we have to give up the clean fill," he said.

Haggerty urged county staff to communicate the apparent disconnect between federal regulators and the county to its congressional representaves.

Woldesenbet said other statewide jurisdiction have also complained about the regulatory process and would expect strong support for the county's position.

Vineyards in eastern Alameda County may have fewer inspectors looking for evidence of the deadly Pierce's Disease in grapevines. The Board of Supervisor cut funding for the regulatory inspections to over $672,000; down almost $62,000.

The disease is transmitted by an insect called the Glassy-Winged Shaprshooter. The reduction through June 2012 was necessitated by decreased funding in the California Department of Food and Agriculture's current fiscal budget.


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