Watershed Programs and Projects

Beach visitors
Watershed Plan Projects and Programs

Following completion of the Trinidad Westhaven Watershed Plan in 2008, the Trinidad Bay Watershed Partners have been implementing priority projects to address the top issues of common concern: pollution from stormwater runoff; failing septic systems (also referred to as onsite wastewater treatment systems or OWTS); and harmful levels of sediment entering watersheds and bay.

Water Quality Posting at Beach
Water Quality Posting at Beach

The City been awarded a second  Clean Beaches Initiative (CBI) grant for $480,000 in grant funding and a total project cost of $600,000 to complete a second round of septic system repairs and replacements, focused on failing septic systems in the Parker, Joland and Luffenholtz Creek watersheds. The SWRCB limited the number of watersheds included for this Clean Beaches project in order to maximize the potential for obtaining measurable reductions in bacterial contamination.  This project is getting underway in 2015.

The OWTS Project  will expand upon and leverage the information gathered during the 2008-2010 OWTS project. The project will use water quality, land use and septic information in three watershed to prioritize parcels for reduced cost septic system inspections to identify those that are failing or functioning poorly. Funds to repair and upgrade those systems will be provided on a sliding-scale, income qualifying basis. Specific tasks include (1) new targeted baseline water quality monitoring, (2) updating the priority parcels analysis, (3) community education and outreach, (4) inspections of 75-100 identified priority parcels, (5) repair or replacing the worst failing and malfunctioning systems on an income eligible, sliding-scale basis, and (6) effectiveness water quality monitoring. The Trinidad-Westhaven Coastal Water Quality Restoration Program/OWTS Emphasis (Project) will reduce bacterial contamination on adjacent beaches caused by septic system (OWTS) contributions.

The City’s first OWTS project (2008 – 2010) was funded through a Clean Beaches Initiative grant for $356,000. . The project researched source tracking using fluorometry in conjunction with water quality testing to identify and characterize bacterial contamination and at-risk OWTS near water sources that drain into Trinidad Bay.  The project then addressed the threat of bacterial contamination in creeks and coastal waters due to malfunctioning septic systems or OWTS (onsite wastewater treatment systems) by repairing or replacing 23 failing systems in Trinidad and Westhaven that were identified and rated as high priority for water quality impacts.

In this Source Water Protection project, funded through a $1.7 million grant from the California Department of Public Health, the City of Trinidad worked with Green Diamond Resource Company to reduce sediment production from several roads for the benefit of the City’s Water Plant and Luffenholtz Creek. To prevent sediment from being released into Luffenholtz Creek, several road segments adjacent to the creek were decommissioned after rerouting to newly constructed road segments. The project was developed by several founding members of the Trinidad Bay Watershed Council.

Pier under construction
Pier under construction

The Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria own and operate the Trinidad Pier and Harbor operations. They completed the reconstruction of the Trinidad Pier Reconstruction in 2012. The $7.5 million project consisted of design, construction, and monitoring funded by state and federal agencies including the State Water Resources Control Board, Proposition 84 ASBS Grant Program, the State Coastal Conservancy, and others. Prior to the reconstruction, it was difficult to maintain the safety of the old pier and protect water quality due to excessive deterioration of the creosote-treated Douglas fir piles and the pressure treated wood decking. The new pier is constructed of polymer coated steel pilings, pre-cast concrete decking and installation of and a state of the art storm water filtration system to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS).

The City’s OWTS Program requires all owners of OWTS in the City of Trinidad to have a valid operating permit and regularly inspect and maintain their systems. The OWTS Ordinance was adopted in 2010.

In order to effectively manage the stormwater runoff within the City and prevent the discharge of polluted stormwater into the Trinidad Bay ASBS, the City’s Stormwater Program works to educate residents, businesses and visitors, improve the stormwater management and infrastructure and to ensure that all development projects prevent the discharge of pollutants during construction when the projects are complete. The City works collaboratively with other North Coast cities and counties to implement their education and outreach program regionally.

The Stormwater Management Improvement Project implements enhancements to the City’s stormwater system to capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff from most rainfall events, thereby significantly reducing pollutants and quantity of stormwater entering the Trinidad Head Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) and protecting its water quality and beneficial uses. The overall project goal is to eliminate stormwater discharge to the ASBS and thereby comply with the California Ocean Plan prohibition of discharge. Phase 1 of this project is funded through a Proposition 84 ASBS Program grant administered by the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Financial Assistance.

Completed Bio-swale along Ocean Avenue.
Completed Bio-swale along Ocean Avenue.

Although the full project encompasses two areas of the City, defined as the upper and lower areas, the final stormwater management improvement design and construction elements for this Phase 1 of the project addressed only the upper area. The project design is based on implementation of best management practices (BMPs) and low impact development (LID) techniques.

A key part of the ASBS Stormwater project is a Public Education and Outreach Program designed to inform residents, landowners, businesses and visitors about the stormwater project, and protection of water quality in the ASBS and watersheds, as well as assisting businesses and residents with implementation of LID to reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality in the Trinidad ASBS and watersheds. The City has worked with the Trinidad Bay Watershed Council to hold meetings and other educational events to provide information about the Bay and watersheds and how to prevent pollutants from entering creeks and the bay.

Construction has been completed on enhancements to the upper area of the City’s stormwater system to capture, treat, and infiltrate stormwater runoff from rainfall events, thereby significantly reducing the quantity of pollutants entering Trinidad Bay ASBS and protecting its water quality and beneficial uses. Post project monitoring was completed in 2015 to demonstrate project effectiveness in reducing the quantity of stormwater discharged to the ASBS.