Sunday, 21 July 2024


CHP officers investigate the scene of a single-vehicle accident Saturday afternoon near Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Clearlake Oaks woman died as the result of a single-vehicle collision Saturday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol reported Monday that the 49-year-old woman, whose name has not yet been released pending family notification, was the driver in the crash. Two passengers traveling with her also were injured.

A report from CHP Officer Adam Garcia stated the woman was driving her 2004 Pontiac westbound along Highway 20 just east of Beryl Way at approximately 12:39 p.m. Saturday when the accident occurred.

For reasons that aren't known, the driver was unable to negotiate a curve to the left, Garcia's report stated.

Garcia reported the car went off the highway's north edge and collided with a rock retaining wall, which caused major inward crush to the vehicle's passenger compartment.

Passenger Michelle Reidle, 45, of Clearlake Oaks sustained minor injuries, according to CHP Officer Josh Dye. A third person in the vehicle, a 16-year-old girl, received major injuries, Dye reported.

All three of the vehicle's occupants were wearing their safety belts, according to Garcia's report.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


CHP officers investigate the scene of a single-vehicle accident Saturday afternoon near Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A single-vehicle accident Saturday resulted in one person's death.

A small red sedan went off the road and into a retaining wall below a residence located along Highway 20 outside of Clearlake Oaks early Saturday afternoon.

Fire and California Highway Patrol officials at the scene of the accident reported that three people had been in the vehicle, with one of them seriously injured and another one pronounced dead at the scene.

Traffic was being directed around the accident scene as CHP investigated the scene and rescue crews finished with cleanup.

A final CHP report detailing the cause of the accident and the victims has not yet been released.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKEPORT – The case of a local veteran facing as many as three years in prison for charges he was in possession of a billy club and stolen body armor ran will continue Monday following a lengthy Friday session.

Derick Hughes, 21, of Upper Lake was in court Friday in the case, which stems from a December 2006 arrest in which a sheriff's deputy found him in possession of the bat and body armor panels during a traffic stop.

Hughes, who served in Iraq, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says his attorneys, Stephen and Angela Carter.

The court proceedings ran out of time on Friday, thanks in part to two fire alarms which emptied out the courthouse.

A full account of the case will follow the sentencing.

E-mail John Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SPRING VALLEY – Fire protection, water, emergency preparedness and community identity proved to be the top issues at a Saturday town hall meeting held for the Spring Valley community.

About 50 people gathered for the afternoon meeting, hosted by District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, at the Spring Valley Community Center on Wolf Creek Road.

It was the fourth town hall meeting that Rushing has organized so far this year for the communities she represents throughout District 3.

During Saturday's meeting, the valley's residents made it very clear to officials that they view themselves as a unique and separate community, and not part of Clearlake Oaks.

Rushing was once again joined at the town hall meeting by county officials including county Administrative Officer Kelly Cox and Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely, who gave updates on county projects. Also on hand was Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins.

Much like some other Northshore communities, Spring Valley is concerned about water.

Mark Dellinger, who heads up the county's Special Districts – which includes Spring Valley's Community Service Area 2 water district – couldn't attend Saturday's meeting.

However, Karen Hanson, Special Districts' administrative manager, attended and was available to answer questions about water bills and the district's budget.

Hanson said she has already compiled Special Districts' preliminary budget for the coming year. Included it in, she said, will be a way to track the money spent on special projects, such as improving the water system.

Special Districts is currently exploring several funding sources – from state to federal loans and grants – in order to improve Spring Valley's treatment plant, she said. Along with that, she said, Dellinger is looking at different treatment plant options.

In addition, Hanson reported that Special Districts has so far installed 182 new water meters in Spring Valley, with 117 more to go. She said a test of the old water meters showed inaccuracy levels of as much as 27 percent, with the meters actually underreporting usage.

Hanson reported that since 1997 the district's unbilled water costs due to those inaccuracies amounted to $350,205.

Fire and emergency preparedness were major discussion topics, with Monte Winters, the District 3 volunteer coordinator for the local Office of Emergency Services, discussing how to be prepared for emergencies in the valley.

That theme was echoed by Rushing and Robbins. In particular, concerns for fire were noted several times, with Roberts saying that fire is the valley's No. 1 expected disaster.

Preparation in dealing with fire should always be a No. 1 issue in Lake County as a whole, said Robbins.

Area residents were concerned about use of the fire rings at the Spring Valley campground during the dry summer season. Robbins explained that while burn bans are managed by the county, campfire permits are managed by a state agency, and the two aren't connected.

During his five years leading the Northshore Fire District, Robbins said he hasn't seen actual problems with actual campfires at the campground, although there have been separate issues with teens and bonfires.

When Rushing asked whether the community wanted to have the campground shut down for the summer to prevent fire issues, there was little support. The room also was split on banning campfires altogether.

In other fire-related news, Robbins said that Northshore Fire recently completed a weed abatement ordinance requiring that weeds be kept down to no more than 4 inches in height on vacant parcels and land during the summer.

The district is starting a database to track owners of vacant lots, Robbins said. If the owners don't keep down the weeds, Robbins said the district will have the weeds mowed and the owners will be billed.

Robbins also addressed the issue of how to evacuate the valley's 300 families in case of an emergency.

Citing the example of a large fire in the valley a few years ago, Robbins said New Long Valley Road -- the main path into the valley – would likely only be shut down for a few hours in such an instance. However, he said, creating an evacuation plan is still critical to the valley's residents.

Old Long Valley Road may offer another route out of the valley, said Robbins, an issue that he said needs to be further explored.

"I feel a little unsafe with you really having only one way out of here," said Robbins.

Rushing said she had Public Works Director Gerald Shaul conduct an assessment regarding access routes out of Spring Valley, as well as likely emergencies.

The two most likely emergencies, said Rushing, are fire and landslides. She said Shaul also said the bridges in the valley need to be evaluated, because some of them may not be able to hold fire trucks responding to emergencies.

A fire-related emergency, said Rushing, "may well be the most important issue in this valley, and it can happen at any time."

During an open forum for questions, residents asked Rushing about a variety of issues, including use of Lake Transit and ways to deal with ATVs.

Rushing said Lake Transit hasn't yet found a cost-effective way to offer public transportation to valley residents. She said she would pass along a suggestion from the meeting that Lake Transit provide service to the valley a few days a week so that residents can make shopping trips to nearby towns.

At Rushing's request, Spring Valley resident Helen Mitchell gave an update on a community plan to set up a Neighborhood Watch-type group called Rapid Responders to address security issues at the campground.

Mitchell said she also is working with Sheriff Rod Mitchell to deal with ATV riders who are destructive at the campground, and would like to set up a special permit process for ATV riders who obey rules.

Another town hall meeting is planned for Blue Lakes, but Rushing said no date has yet been set.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



BARTLETT SPRINGS – An accident Saturday on the main road to Bartlett Springs resulted in major injuries for occupants in both cars.

California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that that a two-vehicle head-on collision – a pickup versus an SUV – took place at 5 p.m. on Bartlett Springs Road.

Ryan Lapp of Lodi, driving a 2000 Kia Sportage, collided head-on with a 1994 Ford Explorer driven by Caleb Sehnert of Williams, according to CHP Officer Josh Dye.

Both victims suffered serious facial injuries, according to the CHP incident logs.

Dye said Lapp was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Dye said, while Sehnert was taken to UC Davis Medical Center.

According to the incident logs, CHP requested a blood draw because a driver was suspected of driving under the influence.

Dye confirmed that alcohol was a factor for both drivers.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LUCERNE – California Water Service Co. is changing its plans for a new building and water plant.

In February, the company applied for a user permit to build a new, two-story office building and a single-story plant along the lakeshore in Lucerne.

But the company has withdrawn the request for that permit. Gay Guidotti, interim customer service representative for Lucerne, said California Water Service has trimmed its budget for plant construction, which was confirmed by county Assistant Planner Terri Persons.

“They're not going to make any changes at all to the building,” said Persons. “It's mainly a cost issue.”

A scheduled April 26 Lake County Planning Commission hearing on a use permit for a two-story office addition at the plant was canceled, Guidotti said.

She added that the company has decided to retrofit its existing one-story office structure. County sources said the decision will save about $1 million of estimated $4 million plant costs, which will be paid for by a loan from California's State Revolving Fund, and repaid by Lucerne's ratepayers.

Persons said the company is planning at this point to focus on improvement its water treatment facility, which shares the same building. That will include work on a pipe pier into the lake, which does require a lakebed encroachment permit, she added.

Cal Water is seeking funding through the state Department of Health Services, said Persons, so an environmental review must be conducted.

The work going on at the plant site is just maintenance right now, said Persons.

If the company did actually remodel the building, Persons confirmed that they would need permits.

Tony Carrasco, Calwater's Oroville district manager, has been helping run the local office during the last few months in the wake of district manager Bill Koehler's leaving.

Carrasco said the company is right now finishing up its permit applications for the pier work.

Cal Water came up against some design issues with the treatment plant, Carrasco said, with some of the problems including the amount of available parking.

He said Cal Water is trying to “diligently keep costs down” while meeting water quality standards, which led to the decision to scale back the plans.

“We felt that we could do the customer service center at a different time,” he said.

Carrasco added, “Water quality is our biggest concern.”

The current building includes a customer service center, with an operations center and a lab for the treatment plant.

The plant, at the back of the property, is where the company plans to do the majority of its work, said Carrasco. “That's where we're going to be upgrading all of our equipment for water treatment,” he said.

Those improvements, he said, will meet or exceed water quality requirements expected to be raised through 2012.

Carrasco confirmed that Cal Water has applied for a low- or no-interest loan through the Department of Health Services, who the company met with on Tuesday to discuss a use permit.

He said the company is making an effort to save its customers money by changing the plans and instead focusing more on water quality.

The initial timeline set for the original project included a June 2008 completion date, he said. The new plans should come in well ahead of that schedule, he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


ANDERSON SPRINGS – The Anderson Springs area has had another sizable earthquake in a week's time, with a 3.4 magnitude earthquake hitting the area Sunday.

The quake was recorded at 6:06 a.m. at a depth of 1.3 miles, according to the US Geological Survey. It was centered two miles northwest of Anderson Springs, three miles south of Cobb and four miles east of The Geysers.

The quake was immediately preceded by a 2.0 magnitude quake centered three miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

A 4.4 magnitude quake hit near The Geysers last Tuesday.

In recent weeks, seismic activity has increased around the county, with larger quakes seen in the areas around The Geysers, as well as across the county near Lake Pillsbury.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE PILLSBURY – Another 3.0 earthquake was reported in the Lake Pillsbury area early Saturday morning.

The quake, centered 8 miles west northwest of Lake Pillsbury, occurred at 6:28 a.m. at a depth of less than a mile, according to the US Geological Survey.

That's the third earthquake of 3.0 magnitude or greater to occur in the area this week, and the sixth this month, according to US Geological Survey records.

April has been an active month seismically for the Pillsbury area. In all, about 90 quakes of various sizes have occurred near Lake Pillsbury over the last few weeks, US Geological Survey records show.

The largest quake to take place in the Pillsbury area this month – a 4.8 magnitude – occurred April 18. US Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer said that quake was the largest to hit Pillsbury in about 30 years.

Oppenheimer said this latest series of Pillsbury earthquakes – which have all been centered close to the same area – are occurring along an unnamed fault.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKEPORT – The case of a young Iraq war veteran making its way through the local courts raises questions about the aftermath of war and how brain injuries may lead to potentially criminal activities in civilian life.

Derick Hughes, 21, of Upper Lake is facing a felony charge of possession of stolen property and a misdemeanor charge of possessing a billy club.

His defense attorneys, Stephen and Angela Carter, have taken the unusual step of speaking publicly about Hughes' case before his sentencing.

The Carters say the circumstances of Hughes' case warrant a deeper consideration of how to deal with people accused of nonviolent criminal charges. As well, they say the case illustrates a looming problem – young vets with brain injuries who may end up in the criminal system.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins would not comment on the case's specifics. “I don't think we can take a final position on the sentencing of Mr. Hughes until the end of the sentencing hearing,” he said.

Hughes was stopped on Dec. 15, 2006, in Nice by Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Andrews. Court documents report that Andrews found Hughes in possession of a bat – classified as a billy club – and two ballistic panels used by the Marines for body army, as well as concentrated cannabis.

Andrews called the Marine post at Twentynine Palms in Southern California where he spoke with the officer of the day, Angela Carter reported. When the officer told Andrews that Hughes should not have the panels, and that they were Marine property, Hughes was charged with possession of stolen property.

Court documents state that Hughes was cooperative with law enforcement officials and admitted occasional drug use.

The Carters say that their defendant's case is colored by his service in the military and his time spent in Iraq, where he saw some of the war's fiercest fighting, and which has left him affected with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To me, what's different about this case is his service in Iraq,” said Angela Carter.

Carter said Hughes was raised in Lake County by his grandmother – who died last year – and his aunt. His mother admitted to drug use while pregnant with him.

Hughes enlisted in the Marines because he was drawn by the idea of travel and regular pay, according to court documents. Hughes attended boot camp at Camp Pendleton, completed the School of Infantry and was assigned to Twentynine Palms.

Deployment anxiety

When he found out he was being sent to Iraq, Hughes began smoking marijuana out of anxiety and failed a urine test, Carter said. However, the Marines still sent him to Iraq.

Carter said Hughes has admitted he should not have had the ballistic panels. She said he had them because of fear and the belief that he needed to protect himself.

He's facing this,” said Carter. “He's not making any attempt to deny what happened.”

While in Iraq, Hughes said he “had to kill various people,” according to court documents. On Dec. 1, 2005, he was involved in the fighting in Fallujah, were 10 of his platoon members were killed by a roadside bomb explosion during a promotion ceremony. An additional 13 platoon members were wounded. A platoon is typically 30 to 50 soldiers.

The incident in Fallujah is the event that triggered Hughes' PTSD, according to Dr. Albert Kastl, the clinical and forensic neuropsychologist the Carters brought in to evaluate Hughes.

Hughes would suffer a dislocated shoulder during his service. When he was sent back stateside, Carter said Hughes suffered severe nightmares. To avoid sleeping, he took methamphetamines. When he once again tested positive for drugs, he was discharged without medical care for his shoulder or counseling, Carter said.

Angela Carter said Hughes has no criminal background, yet is being charged with a felony that could earn him as many as three years in state prison.

After Hughes' initial arrest, he was released on his own recognizance, said Carter. However, she said he became confused about his appointment with the Probation Department and missed it. When he next came to court for a hearing, the judge had him remanded into custody, where Carter said he has remained for nearly two months.

Hughes was due in court for sentencing April 20, but the sentencing was continued until this Friday because Judge Richard Martin was out of town and unavailable to hear the case, Angela Carter said.

Carter said the Probation Department recommended Hughes be sentenced to 280 days in county jail rather than prison.

However, the Carters are asking Martin to consider reducing Hughes' felony charge to a misdemeanor. In their legal argument, the Carters assert that the charge could be construed as a “wobbler,” a charge which could be either a felony or a misdemeanor.

It's a motion the Carters say the District Attorney's Office is opposing.

I, for the life of me, can't figure out why they want a felony on this guy,” said Carter.

She said individuals are normally charged on felonies based on two things: the value of the property and previous criminal behavior.

Carter said she doesn't know how much the value of the materials, but she said Hughes has no criminal history.

Clear case” of PTSD

Dr. Kastl, himself a vet, said Carter, believes that Hughes' is a “clear case” of PTSD, and that he would

benefit greatly from treatment. Kastl, she said, found Hughes personable and outgoing.

Kastl will testify about his findings in the case at Hughes' sentencing this week, Carter said.

It's unusual to put experts on the stand at sentencing unless it's a much larger case, like a homicide, said Carter.

We want to make sure that we really get our points across,” Carter said. “We want Derick to explain what he went through in Iraq.”

Young vets coming home struggle with transitions

Bob Penny, the assistant service officer at the Lake County Veterans Services Office, said his office is seeing many young vets coming home from war seeking various kinds of help, including counseling. Right now, he said, he's working with 12 young vets locally.

There are many young Lake County natives service in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, Penny said, referring to the Wall of Honor featuring local servicemen and women in the courthouse in Lakeport.

Those returning vets are having problems adjusting to civilian life, said Penny, especially if they've served more than one tour of duty. “That takes a toll on you psychologically,” he said.

Because of the difficulty in adjusting, Penny said, young vets have more of a propensity for getting into trouble. He said the state legislature passed a law last year to try to address that issue and keep them out of the courts.

When they leave active service, Penny said, veterans aren't getting “nearly enough” counseling and help, a responsibility that has been handed over to the Veterans Administration.

A Government Accountability Office report from last year showed that the Veterans Administration budget was flawed, and that the agency had no plan for treating veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Studying the war's impact

Whether a person does or doesn't agree with the Carters' arguments in Hughes' defense, the issue of a growing number of young vets returning to U.S. shores with PTSD is a looming social issue.

A report released last August says the numbers of vets suffering from PTSD, which is considered a brain injury, is growing dramatically.

Last year, the Veterans Health Administration's Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards studied Veterans Administration services sought by veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Of the 588,923 veterans who had left active duty at that time, 31 percent – or 184,524 – had sought VA health care since 2002.

Of those vets, an estimated 63,767 were diagnosed with possible mental disorders, which include PTSD by definition.

And, finally, 29,041 of those vets were diagnosed with PTSD specifically, with more than 20,095 others diagnosed with depressive disorders; 10,573 with affective psychoses; 4,566 with alcohol dependence; 2,020 with drug dependence; and 2,004 with “acute reaction to stress.”

The Veterans Health Administration Web site features a paper by Brett T. Litz of the National Center for PTSD called “A Brief Primer on the Mental Health Impact of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the most sustained combat operations since the Vietnam War, and initial signs imply that these ongoing wars are likely to produce a new generation of veterans with chronic mental health problems associated with participation in combat,” writes Litz.

Litz cites a 2004 study that examined the mental health impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and found that the risk of PTSD for the Iraq War was 18 percent – a rate he called “alarmingly high” – versus 11 percent for service in Afghanistan.

In fact, that 18 percent rate of PTSD among vets who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq is three percent higher than the estimated prevalence among Vietnam veterans, according to the 1988 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study.

Many studies indicate that more frequent and more intense involvement in combat operations increases the risk of developing chronic PTSD and associated mental health problems,” Litz wrote. “Initial evidence indicates that combat operations in Iraq are very intense.”

Litz said the study notes that PTSD rates will decrease over time unless “the mission is experienced as a failure, if soldiers deploy more than once, if new veterans who need services do not get the support they need, or if post-deployment demands and stressors mount, the lasting mental health toll of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may increase over time.”

Young veterans coming home also appear reluctant to ask for help, according to Litz. Of the 80 percent of soldiers who acknowledged they had a mental health problem, only 40 percent were open to receiving help and 26 percent reported receiving formal mental health care, due to the fear of stigma and its possible effects on their careers.

How will the system deal with young veterans?

There are no hard numbers yet for young veterans who become subject to criminal prosecution.

Although Hopkins would not comment on Hughes' case, he said that, generally, his office would deal with such individuals “on a case by case basis.”

There are some war vets who present a danger to the community, and some who just need some help,” he said. “Most of those who need help and have committed a crime should be on supervised probation to get the maximum benefit we can offer. There are some who do not need the supervised probation, of course, and we find other ways to assure they will not repeat their crimes.”

Hopkins added, “The crucial issue, in the final analysis, is to determine what needs to be done to protect the community. How a person got to where they are committing crimes can be different when dealing with a war veteran, and that is taken into consideration, but we make the same determination for the resolution of the case as with anyone else. There are often more services available for veterans, and those are utilized as much as possible.”

For her part, Carter said she believes the case will test the idea of “supporting the troops” beyond just their service in war, but after they return home.

Derick Hughes will be in Lake County Superior Court in Lakeport at 9 a.m. Friday, April 27.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


NORTHSHORE – Nearly 5,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers were out of power Saturday evening due to conditions connected with a controlled burn.

Susan Simon, a spokesperson for PG&E, said heavy smoke from a controlled burn on the northwest side of Bachelor Valley affected electrical transmission lines, causing the outage at approximately 5:11 p.m.

Simon said 4,891 PG&E customers in Nice, Lucerne and the west side of Upper Lake were affected.

Power was restored to all affected customers by 8:56 p.m., said Simon.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – In an effort to put more “clear” into Clear Lake, the next step was taken recently to implement a monitoring plan that will improve water quality for the lake's beneficial uses.

On April 3, the State Water Board approved a resolution from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) to amend the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins – which receives water from Clear Lake by way of Cache Creek.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires the CVRWQCB to assign beneficial uses for Clear Lake, which include drinking water, agricultural irrigation, recreation, freshwater habitat, spawning, wilderness habitat and fishing (both commercial and sport).

Clear Lake has been listed as "impaired," meaning the water quality does not meet the standards for the beneficial uses due to nutrients flowing into the lake from tributaries. Those nutrients, in turn, cause algae to bloom at high levels.

With a goal of reducing nutrient flows into the lake by 40 percent, the CVRWQCB initiated a process to determine the total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants and nutrients that Clear Lake can receive and still meet its beneficial uses.

Clear Lake is already undergoing a TMDL for mercury.

After being listed as impaired for nutrients and holding a meeting for stakeholders and the public in Lakeport in January 2006, the next step was to have the State Water Board adopt their proposed amendments to the plan, which they have now done.

The amendment still needs to be approved by the Office of Administrative Law and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Once the amendment and TMDL are fully approved, responsible parties must submit a monitoring and control strategy within one year and comply with load and waste load allocations for phosphorus in Clear Lake within 10 years of approval.

The amendment states that the CVRWQCB will implement phosphorus control practices to achieve load and waste load allocations. They'll do that through waste discharge requirements or waivers of waste discharge requirements.

“Studies indicate that excess phosphorus contributes to the occurrence of nuisance blooms of blue-green algae in Clear Lake during summer and fall periods,” said Lori Webber, a CVRWQCB environmental scientist.

Certain species of algae emit toxins, Webber said in January 2006. “Those species are in the lake, but we don’t know if these species are emitting toxins.”

Many sources of phosphorus

According to the CVRWQCB, most of the excess phosphorus which enters the lake is bound to soil and sediment that comes from roads, agricultural activities (irrigation and fertilizer use), in-stream channel erosion, construction, gravel mining, wildfires and control burns, timber harvesting activities, livestock grazing, off-highway vehicles, dredging and filling, urban and storm water runoff, and sewage and septic overflows.

Most of the stakeholders agree that much has been done in the past several years to mitigate pollution and sediment flows to the lake. In fact, they may have already met the 40 percent reduction but they won’t know until monitoring occurs. And monitoring is expensive.

“We have one year to develop a plan to monitor,” explained Bob Lossius, assistant director for Lake County Public Works.

“They’re forcing us to do the monitoring,” he said, but are not providing the funds to do so.

“For us,” Lossius said, “it’s a lot of time and a lot of money.”

Just to update the Clear Lake Basin Management Plan, Lossius said, will cost $500,000 and they’re currently doing expensive monitoring for mercury.

The amendment will require an assessment of the monitoring results five years and three months after full approval. That is meant to determine whether the phosphorus load and waste load allocations should continue to be required or if some other control strategy or approach is more appropriate. The TMDL's goals must be achieved within 10 years of implementation.

The CVRWQCB has listed “responsible parties” which will be required to do monitoring and then will be assigned a waste load allocation. They include Caltrans, Lake County Storm Water permittees (Lake County, City of Clearlake, City of Lakeport), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and irrigated agriculture.

In January 2006, there was concern about where the $50,000 per year would come from for the stream monitoring gauges. Since then, the state is now paying for the operation of gauges on Middle, Scotts and Kelsey Creeks – but that’s only one part of the cost of implementing the TMDL.

The Irrigated Agricultural Lands Conditional Waiver for Irrigation and Stormwater Runoff program that is administered by the Lake County Farm Bureau has been monitoring for the past three years and reporting results to the CVRWQB.

The program requires growers to meet two conditions: They can join a watershed group approved by the CVRWQB or they can sign up with the CVRWQB as an individual.

Homes part of watershed

The Lake County Farm Bureau formed a watershed group for their voting members that includes all land where water would flow into the Sacramento Valley which was approved by the CVRWQB, according to Farm Bureau Executive Director Chuck March.

“We currently have approximately 168 growers with over 13,000 acres enrolled in our program in Lake County,” March said.

Much of this land is interspersed with residential properties that do not irrigate a commercial crop but may irrigate lawns, gardens or have pastured animals. They would not participate in the waiver program to help pay for the monitoring, but would contribute to the results of any monitoring the program does.

Additionally, March explained that the watershed group has no regulatory power to enforce any practices on growers. “Our program is based upon monitoring and outreach with education,” March said.

It certainly wouldn’t have any enforcement power over lands that contribute to the watershed but aren’t a part of the program.

“We have been monitoring major tributaries for three years now,” March explained. The monitoring requires two toxicity tests, one test in the fall after tributaries begin to flow, and one test during the winter, based upon dormant oil applications, information that comes from pest control advisors and the agricultural commissioner.

A third monitoring event, March explained, is during the late spring before the tributaries go dry and the irrigation season begins.

They test for over 68 pesticides, heavy metals, turbidity and E. coli – with a price tag of more than $6,000 for each test.

“After three years of monitoring, we have shown no exceedances of any of the water quality objectives except for E. coli,” March said. They are currently sampling the E. coli for DNA that can help identify the source – which could include animals, birds or even septic tanks.

“The cost of this program exceeds $30,000, and our watershed membership is assessed to participate in our program,” March said. “Our growers are the only private industry responsible for monitoring the watershed. Currently we feel we are penalized because we irrigate land on a commercial basis.”

The Lake County Farm Bureau has discussed this issue with the Lake County Department of Water Resources, who agrees that it would be impossible to estimate loading from irrigated agricultural land alone – and it should fall under the reporting structure of Lake County.

Everyone agrees that they want to protect Clear Lake for beneficial uses – but where will Lake County and other “responsible parties” get the funds to do the monitoring and mitigation?

“It’s an unfunded mandate,” Lossius said. “With the programs we have in place, we may have already met the goals.”

Perhaps the question of where the funds for the monitoring will come from will be answered by the CVRWQCB when they host a stakeholders meeting on May 16 at the courthouse in Lakeport.

But probably not. Webber said at the last stakeholders meeting that the CVRWQCB didn’t have the funds either.

E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKEPORT – Authorities are looking for a woman accused of kidnapping a child from Glenn County last weekend and bringing him to Lakeport.

Meantime, the woman's brother – who may be the child's father – was taken into custody for obstructing an officer and child endangerment.

Tabitha Pasalo, 24, who lives part-time at both Glenn County's Grindstone Rancheria and the Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport, reportedly took the child Saturday, said Lt. Rich Warren of the Glenn County Sheriff's Office.

Pasalo had gone to visit the child at the Grindstone Rancheria home of his mother, 20-year-old Dahnna Burrows, Warren said. He said the child's paternity hasn't been determined, but that Pasalo's brother, John Michael Pasalo, 22, is believed to possibly be the father.

Burrows left the child at the home with Pasalo for a brief time while she ran errands, Warren said. When Burrows returned home the child and Pasalo were gone.

On Sunday the child was found at John Pasalo's home on Soda Bay Road, said Chief Deputy Russell Perdock of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Pasalo initially agreed to turn the child over, then changed his mind and tried to bolt out the door with the child. Perdock said Pasalo was arrested for child endangerment and resisting an officer because of his attempt to escape.

The child was turned over to Lake County Child Protective Services, who returned him to his mother, said Warren.

As for Tabitha Pasalo, authorities are still looking for her, Perdock and Warren said.

“She has not been arrested at his time, but we are going to be seeking charges against her,” said Warren, adding that those charges will likely include kidnapping.

The case is still under investigation, said Warren, with detectives trying to determine what part John Pasalo may have played in the child's abduction.

If he's found to have been involved, Warren said, he could face conspiracy and kidnapping charges as well.

The Glenn County Sheriff's Office hopes to have the investigation wrapped up by Thursday at the latest, said Warren.

If John Pasalo is charged with conspiracy, Warren said they will request that Pasalo be prosecuted in Glenn County by District Attorney Robert Holzapfel, since that's where the abduction took place. Meantime, the child endangerment charges will be prosecuted in Lake County by District Attorney Jon Hopkins' office.

Warren said Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones and his department were very grateful to Sheriff Rod Mitchell and the Lake County Sheriff's Office for their help on the case.

“Based on their work over there we were able to get this child back very quickly,” Warren said.

John Pasalo was booked into the Lake County Jail and remains in custody on $26,000 bail.

Anyone with information about Tabitha Pasalo is asked to call the Lake County Sheriff's Office, 262-4200.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.