(Photos by Terry Weiner)

Monsoon Floods Project Site

October 2, 2010 - Terry Weiner of the Desert Protective Council visited the desert where the Imperial Valley Solar Project SunCatchers will be placed, during a rainstorm that soaked the area and caused dry washes to flow like rivers. She sent us these photos.

"I had been in Brawley and El Centro since Thursday evening and there had been isolated thunderstorms with light rain in certain areas. As I headed west on I-8 late yesterday afternoon, the side of the road seemed dry but there was a big storm cell to the southwest over the mountains south of Ocotillo. I took a right and went north on Dunaway Rd. and was really astounded to be stopped by a sizable amount of water flowing east across the road. I decided not to cross it first and took photos, observing the river-like flowing coming off the BLM land immediately south of the raised bed of the RR tracks. I eventually drove slowly through the stream after I watched other small cars make it through. I went west on old highway 80 exactly 2.8 miles. I was at that point .9 mile east of the blue US Gypsum sign. I then walked south and climbed over the tracks and spent the next hour walking south and west in a very light rain. I am virtually certain I was walking within the Solar Two site boundaries. I crossed numerous washes and areas where water had obviously flowed leaving deep sucking mud. The braided washes flowed into each other, creating impassible bodies of water at certain points.

"If I had continued walking west and south, I imagine I would have encountered more water flowing. From the veritable river that was flowing very swiftly and deeply at the far northeastern corner of the site onto Dunaway Rd, the slope of the land and direction of flow off the site was pretty clear."

"...all of these photos are in the vicinity of 1/4 of a mile south of old highway 80, between .9 mile and 1 mile east of the blue US Gypsum property sign."

"I noticed that there were several washes with eroded banks which looked as though the water had cut the banks above 2 feet high. On the northern part of the site, south of the railroad tracks, water was flowing over 2 feet deep..."

"We have a photo from our April monitoring excursion showing debris caught 5 feet up in smoke trees in washes that were east of the boundary of the project.

"And yes, Friday and Saturday's rain was indeed normal for a monsoon rain."

"The ones that show the road are just south of the RR Tracks on Dunaway Rd."

"I learned it rained more in the area on Saturday too."

"...the amount of water flowing was truly impressive, the depth of the mud left behind on some of the surfaces was also impressive."

"I must say that the scent and saturated colors of the desert yesterday were enough to knock one over. Whew! The wet mesquite and atriplex, in particular, are intense."


Burrowing Owl Decline

The Imperial Valley has been the last stronghold of Burrowing owls in California, habitat loss causing declines elsewhere. Now evidence has come to light that even here the owls are crashing, which makes preserving their habitat on the Imperial Valley Solar Project site imperative. Surveys conducted by the Imperial Irrigation District show the burrowing owl population has dropped from about 5,600 pairs in the early 1990s to 4,879 pairs in 2007, and 3,557 pairs in 2008.

"We've seen a 27% drop in one year alone," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. "If there is a similar drop next year, this bird could disappear in California."

See>> Los Angeles Times.

"...on Friday afternoon and everyone had left, I was standing looking across the street at a completely dirt field in El Centro between Imperial Ave. and La Brucherie and sitting on a stake at the edge of the dirt lot about 20 feet from where I was standing a lovely burrowing owl was perched. The ground seemed flat all across the lot, and I did not see any trenches with burrows. We stared at each other for a while and then he flew across the field to a further stake."


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