10/11/2019 Emergency Updates

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September 20, 2019 7:03 PM

No Swim Advisory for South Yuba River and Englebright Lake

The South Yuba River, from below the Town of Washington to Lake Englebright, currently appears to have high level of sediments of unknown origin suspended in the water creating potentially unsafe river conditions for all people and animals. The cause is under investigation, and due to possibly unsafe swimming and recreation conditions, Nevada County Environmental Health has issued a No Swim Advisory for the South Yuba River below Washington to Englebright Lake.

Local officials including Nevada County, South Yuba River Citizen's League (SYRCL), State Parks, and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District met to discuss current river conditions. Officials from Nevada County Environmental Health went to various South Yuba River locations to take water samples for testing. Full test results will take 3 to 4 days.

With SYRCL’s annual Yuba River Cleanup tomorrow, volunteers are advised to use extra caution to not come into contact with the water and to keep pets away. Some sites may be redirected to alternative areas to protect volunteers from any safety concerns on the South Yuba River. SYRCL’s site leads will be working with volunteers at each of the 35 cleanup locations if redirection to other sites is needed. For questions about SYRCL’s Yuba River Cleanup, please check www.yubariver.org.

For updates, visit www.MyNevadaCounty.com/YubaRiverAdvisory. Individuals can also call 211 Connecting Point by dialing 2-1-1 or calling 1 (844) 319-4119.

No Swim Advisory for South Yuba River
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Latest Update:

October 2, 2019 6:06 PM

As the investigation into the South Yuba River plume continues, Environmental Health has received new test results confirming that the South Yuba River and Englebright Reservoir are safe for recreational use. The test results from all eight of the water sample locations show that there are no toxic metals or high levels of E.coli in the Yuba River and Englebright Reservoir.
“It does not appear that any cannabis cultivation or active mining on the Kilham Road property was the cause at this time,” said Nevada County Community Development Agency Director Sean Powers. “The investigation is complex and will take time."
Nevada County Code Compliance continues to investigate and work with the property owner on the alleged code violations. The property owner has been compliant and Code Compliance does not currently believe that the alleged violations are connected to the plume.
“The County takes this issue very seriously,” said County Executive Officer Alison Lehman. “Multiple local and state agencies are working diligently to identify the plume source and take any preventative actions needed.”
Officials have also been looking at adjacent parcels, including Bureau of Land Management public lands, to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the area and rule out other possible sources. Officials do know that mining has historically occurred in this area, with several exposed cliffs typically associated with hydraulic mining easily visible.
“As advocates for the Yuba River, we appreciate the County keeping us updated while they investigate the cause the plume,” said South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) Executive Director Melinda Booth. “While it appears that this is an isolated incident, SYRCL plans to conduct additional monitoring for E.coli throughout the year. We hope this will give us insight into the initially high levels of E.coli in this incident and what is happening in our watershed year-round.”
The investigation is a formal process and will take time. Weekly updates will continue to be posted at www.MyNevadaCounty.com/YubaRiverAdvisory as more information becomes available. The County recognizes that the South Yuba River is a valued community resource and appreciates everyone’s patience as progress continues.

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Prior Updates

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September 25, 2019 5:27 PM

Nevada County officials have identified a property on the 13000 block of Kilham Mine Road in Nevada City as the possible source of Friday’s South Yuba River plume that moved downstream to Englebright Lake.

"We are thankful for all the community partners who helped us quickly get the word out about river conditions and identify the source of the plume," said Jeff Pettitt, Office of Emergency Services Manager and Sheriff Captain. “All agencies and organizations worked together to put the public’s safety first and we are grateful for everyone’s quick work.”

After identifying the property by flying upriver with California Highway Patrol early on, officials from the County, Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Water Resources Control Board made contact with the property owner on Tuesday. The owner has been cooperative, and staff from Nevada County Environmental Health have taken soil and water samples from the property to help complete the investigation.

Andrew Altevogt, Assistant Executive Officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, said “We take this incident very seriously and we will continue to work with county authorities to determine what happened and what the impacts were to water quality in the area. Once we’ve gathered the facts, we will determine the appropriate enforcement action to take.”

While on the property, staff also identified numerous code violations. Nevada County Code Compliance is working with the property owner to bring the property into compliance with County regulations.

"We are grateful for the County's rapid response to our report of the plume on Friday afternoon. Our history of mining makes our watershed especially vulnerable. It's when, not if, a catastrophic event will occur unless we take needed action and continue restoring our watershed," said Melinda Booth, South Yuba River Citizen League’s Executive Director.

In addition to the samples taken from the property, Environmental Health will continue sampling this weekend to ensure water is safe for recreational use.

"After the preliminary tests showed dangerously high levels of E.coli at the Highway 49 Bridge of the South Yuba River, we were glad to have received recent results indicating no significant health concern," said Amy Irani, Nevada County Environmental Health Director.

Since tests at the Highway 49 Bridge on the South Yuba River initially showed dangerous levels of E.coli, please remember to contact your primary care physician if you were in the affected water since Friday and are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. Nevada County Public Health has notified local health providers about the possibility of E.coli associated with Friday’s plume.

All updates on the plume and Yuba River Advisory can be found at www.MyNevadaCounty.com/YubaRiverAdvisory.

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September 24, 2019 1:14 PM

No Swim Advisory lifted for the South Yuba River and Lake Englebright. Most recent water samples came back as safe for recreational use. Cause of the plume is still under environmental review.

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