Martin Espinoza, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Imagine someone throwing old rubber tires, glass and plastic bottles, tennis balls, a television and a vehicle transmission into your bathtub. It probably wouldn’t drain very well, would it?
That’s a point local conservationists and Sonoma County officials drove home Thursday afternoon during an event that marked the end of a major garbage cleanup of an important local waterway.In this case, the bathtub is the Laguna de Santa Rosa and its “drain” is a key two-mile stretch of water that, over the years, has been choked off and obscured by wood debris, sediment, gravel and garbage.
Thanks to a multi-agency partnership and the hard work of at-risk youth, the waterway between Guerneville and River roads, one mile west of Olivet Road, is flowing freely again, feeding the Russian River and Pacific Ocean and attracting small fish and the unique birds eager to eat them.
“The most important part of a bathtub is the drain,” said 4th District Supervisor James Gore during the event that celebrated the end of a $50,000 cleanup. The eight-week effort was spearheaded by a number of organizations, including the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, the county Human Services Department and Social Advocates for Youth, or SAY.
It was funded by the Water Agency and the Occidental County Sanitation District as part of a settlement of fines levied against the water agency by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The money went to the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, which contracted with SAY youth to do the work.“We found transmissions of cars, we found water heaters,” said Anthonie Vasquez, 19, who has been with SAY for two years. “This kind of work is really hard.”