Hundreds of miles of road in Butte County are maintained by public works, but a problematic 8 mile stretch above Magalia has become a priority for repair after the California Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter saying deterioration was causing water flows to discharge sediment into Little Butte Creek.
A few residences branch off of Powellton Road as it changes from gravel to dirt, however most of the property in the area belongs to lumber producer Sierra Pacific Industries.
“When they built roads back in the day, they weren’t up to modern standards,” said Dennis Schmidt, Director of Butte County Public Works.
During Winter months, the grade in the road causes water to erode dirt from the side of the banks and create ditches. However, the county believes that traffic from recreational vehicles is exacerbating the problem as other paths are being created by deep tire marks. Combined with the natural deterioration, the water flows across the road and directly into the creek during rainstorms.
The letter was received in July of 2016 that outlined a study conducted by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. It said the improper irrigation is disruptful to “sensitive downstream receptors, such as anadromous fish populations and a domestic water source” and required a plan of action by September of that year.
Now with wet months ahead, landowners, lawmakers and the county looking for answers.
“If dirt went nowhere and it stayed muddy and people had fun I wouldn’t have a problem but when it gets into your water supply it becomes an issue,” said District 5 Supervisor, Doug Teeter.
In an area that…
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