A flood detention basin at White Hill School/Lefty Gomez Field in Fairfax, California would introduce unacceptable new safety hazards there.

1000 students' and residents' lives stand to be disrupted for a multi-year construction project—and forevermore, every time it's used for flooding, subsequent clean-up, rebuilding, replanting, maintenance, upgrades, renovations, and retrofits.

Large government grants are available for flood detention basins. As a result, "stormwater management" is big industry. The facts that these structures bring hazards, harm the natural environment, and create new flooding issues are often whitewashed by those intent on building them.

Flood detention basins pose public safety hazards, including exposure to hazardous materials from polluted runoff and drowning.

Las Vegas had a flash flood last year where three people drowned in municipal flood control facilities (July 1-3, 2016). One body was found in a detention basin the day after the storm, and two others were swept away and drowned in flood channels that divert water into detention basins there. Las Vegas has spent $1.7 billion on its flood control.

Charlotte Schaefers drowned in a detention basin of 4-foot high stormwater. Before her death, neighborhood residents had filed more than two dozen complaints about the pond, saying it was a safety hazard because it flooded and had inadequate fencing.

Firefighters had to rescue eight people and two dogs from a flooded dual-use detention basin in Los Angeles this year.

County-proposed plans for the Lefty Gomez Field detention basin have indicated the playfield would be dug up and sunk 16 feet into the ground, shrinking the field size by about 25%. The basin plan proposes a 17-foot concrete dam and spillway in the creek that runs through the school property.

The Ross Valley could be leaders in green flood mediation. At the 4/16 flood board meeting, Warren Karlenzig spoke to the Ross Valley flood board about newly-available FEMA funding for climate-resilient mitigation, including flood plain and stream restoration, and green infrastructure methods. According to FEMA, "These activities can mitigate any natural hazard, however the activities are focused on mitigating the impacts of flood in drought conditions." Karlenzig is a San Anselmo business owner and an internationally recognized expert in Green Infrastructure and Low-Impact Development. Read his article on greener solutions for the Ross Valley.

Projects are underway to utilize stormwater better, with several areas of Southern California already leading by example. Santa Monica now requires stormwater permits for all new construction and mandates less asphalt and concrete, and more ground space and porous materials-–such as pervious concrete, asphalt and pavers-–that slow runoff and allow it to sink into the ground. Use of cisterns and rain barrels as a practical, cheap way for homeowners to capture and store rainwater. Bioretention basins to create low-tech depressions in the ground that let more water infiltrate down. The city offers rebates of up to $1000 for use in retrofitting individual properties.)

CREEK RESTORATION: Creek daylighting and restoration is a solid approach for major flood control for the Ross Valley. It's very efficient and cost-effective, with lots of potential to reduce flooding, according to the experts. Watch this presentation by Matt Smeltzer (P.E. Engineer/Geomorphologist, geomorphDESIGN) to San Anselmo Town Council (10/25/16): Downtown San Anselmo Creek Restoration: (skip to Agenda Item 10 under the player window.)

Please support our BALLOT INITIATIVE! We are fundraising to cover costs for a ballot initiative to provide Fairfax voters the right to decide whether their local recreational fields can be replaced with stormwater detention basin facilities. The initiative is necessary as otherwise the county of Marin has plans to build a flood detention basin where Lefty Gomez/White Hill School field is located, in spite of community opposition. Donate here. Thank you for your support!

(Ross Valley Flood Control Zone 9)