Drought best time to prepare for a flood

The last week in October is California Flood Preparedness Week. In this year of drought, some may wonder whether such an annual commemoration is necessary, but floods are the most common weather-related natural hazard, and even with the lack of rainfall in past years, regions of our county have experienced flash flooding. We face particular danger in areas where wild fires have removed vegetation.

Plants usually absorb rainfall and reduce runoff. Consequently, a few minutes of concentrated rainfall in a burn area is all it takes for a significant debris flow to occur, which can become dangerous to residents as well as motorists on adjacent roads.

Homeowners and residents can protect themselves and minimize losses in case of flooding by taking measures found at https://www.ready.gov/floods, and can track local storm information at http://vcwatershed.net/fws/. Information about flood insurance discounts in rural areas can be seen at www.vcfloodinfo.com.

Winter poses additional gardening challenges

Recent lack of rain has also made gardening difficult for some gardeners. Now, the reduced sunlight and temperatures of winter pose additional challenges.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon, master gardener Lee Rosenboom will teach how to plant a winter vegetable garden so you can put healthy vegetables on your table far into the chillier months. Also, Farm Advisor Dr. Ben Faber will share essential information about citrus, including a discussion of the Asian citrus psyllid and appropriate and effective watering for citrus trees in a drought.

For registration, go to http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=18028 .

Even without rain, runoff brings litter to coast

Results are in from last month’s Coastal Cleanup Day. In Ventura County, 2,700 volunteers collected 11,846 pounds of litter from 14 coastal and nine inland locations.

At all 900 clean-up sites in California this year, the Coastal Commission campaign highlighted the problem of cigarette butt litter. Since 1989, cigarette butts have been the No. 1 item collected during cleanups. During the three-hour cleanup this year, 19,020 cigarette butts were collected in Ventura County alone; over 5,000 from a single beach site. Other top items collected were plastic bags, food wrappers, straws, plastic bottles and bottle caps.
How do so many of these small items end up at our beaches? The answer is runoff. Water from overwatering lawns, street-side car-washing, and other gutter-filling activities rushes out to the beaches, carrying debris.

Butts and other litter found at beaches don’t usually originate there. Litter washes from city streets through creeks and storm drains and eventually ends up on our beaches. The Coastal Commission estimates that 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources.

For more information, see www.vccoastcleanup.org.

Contributors to the above include Master Gardener Jessica Craven Goldstein and PWA Watershed Protection District Deputy Director Sergio Vargas and Water Resources Specialist Lara Meeker