By Daniel Dodge, Watsonville City Councilmember, District 5
On November 8, 2011, the Watsonville City Council held a special meeting on the Pajaro River and on the Salsipuedes levees. The purpose of the meeting was to allow members of our community and elected officials to see firsthand the dire need for maintenance and repair work on the two levees. Almost a year later, Santa Cruz County is now nearing completion of the first phase of the bench excavation project on the Pajaro River.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Santa Cruz County on this achievement. A special thank you should go out to our former County Supervisor Tony Campos. For more than a decade, Supervisor Campos fought hard for improvements to the Pajaro River levee. His dedication to fight for South County residents helped to bring about the bench excavation project. Former Mayor and City Councilman Manuel Bersamin also was an advocate for Pajaro Valley residents and we send him our gratitude and appreciation.
Winter and the upcoming rainy season are approaching us soon. As not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade, I must bring to attention to the very poor condition of the Salsipuedes and Corralitos Creek bench and levees. Anyone walking along Salsipuedes or Corralitos Creek levees can see that both are in terrible condition and are leaving the residents of Watsonville and South County in a very dangerous situation.
The Salsipuedes levee is adjacent to our senior community and to neighborhoods with some of our vulnerable residents. You can easily see that the bench is almost even with the levee, providing almost no flood protection. The main channel there is filled with trees and debris. Corralitos Creek is the same way. Even to the untrained eye, one can see the potential for a disaster.
I would urge our residents of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley to contact our County representatives. Please tell them to start work on a Salsipuedes bench excavation project. This is also needed on Corralitos Creek. We need action now before another tragic flood hits our community.