The Aliso Creek SUPER Project surfaced as a top county priority with the election Tuesday of Fifth District Supervisor Pat Bates as chairwoman of the board.
“SUPER" stands for stabilization, utility protection and environmental restoration. Federal funding is sought and Bates is going after it. Bates was unavailable for comment, but her office confirmed Thursday that she has made the project a priority and is looking for ways to make it happen.
“The supervisor has directed the Leg [Legislative] CEO to come to the board on the 27th with information that would include looking at opportunities to get the project into the Federal Stimulus Package," said Chip Monaco, Bates’ chief of staff.
The regular process for federal funding for new projects is through Congressional appropriations committees.
“Getting it in the stimulus package would move it off the new start list and help chances of future funding," Monaco said.
Marilyn Thoms, manager of the environmental engineering section of the Orange County Watersheds Program said Bates position is what supporters of the SUPER Project have been asking for.
“This is really good news of us," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, a longtime supporter of the project. “I will be pulling the Aliso Coalition of council members to help work for our funding.
Pearson and Councilwoman Toni Iseman early on approached the elected officials outside of Laguna to back the project.
The first phase of the proposed project includes the construction of a series of low structures in the creek and the reconnection of it to the natural flood plan. Creek sides would be shaved to reduce the steepness of the slopes. Invasive species of plants would be removed and replaced with native vegetation. Infrastructure protection would include locking the low flow channel in place with rock at the toe, and soil wraps above the rock.
Diversion of the low flows of Aliso Creek at the South Orange County Water Agency treatment plant to make the water salable for irrigation is also a goal. The project was estimated in 2007 to cost about $45 million.
BARBARA DIAMOND can be reached at (949) 494-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.