Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Preliminary Environmental Assessment For Viking Ranch


Last updated 10/5/2018 at 9:50am

On 160 acres at the northern end of Borrego Valley, along the reaches of Coyote Creek previously covered with citrus trees between approximately 1994 – 2016, there is now vacant land. With the goals of fallowing the land to return it to a more “natural” condition, and also less aquifer pumping and draw-down, BWD engaged the services of Dudek, Inc. to make a preliminary environmental assessment (EA) of the Viking Ranch property.

The Dudek EA report noted a 90-foot drop in groundwater levels between 1998 and 2008, the latest data available from an on-site well. As for site-specific issues identified in the EA, pesticides and chemicals were used on the site for agricultural activities, and petroleum is currently stored on the site in plastic containers.

The report also states, “Soil samples collected at the site were below laboratory reporting limits for pesticides and herbicides. Arsenic was detected above regulatory screening levels but below the acceptable background concentration.”

“Items of concern” and recommended actions for mitigation of those concerns listed in the Report are as follows:

– Two oil filled plastic containers observed on the site should be removed and properly disposed of in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal guidelines;

– Stained soil was observed on the site near a cement platform located in the southwest corner of the site. The stained soil should be removed and disposed of in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal guidelines;

– A water well was located on the site. If the owner of the site plans to use the well in the future, the well should be capped with a lockable lid. If no future use of the well is planned, the turbine discharge head and impeller shaft should be removed and the well should be abandoned in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines. Alternatively, the well may be converted to a monitoring well;

– Surface water was observed flowing on the site from the adjacent property to the south. The source of the surface water should be identified. The surface water should then be prevented from entering the site or rerouted off of the site. Surface water from unknown sources has the potential to carry contamination onto the site;

– There was no detection of OCPs (organo-chlorine pesticides) and herbicides in the soil samples collected. Arsenic was detected in all five of the soil samples, but was below DTSC-accepted background concentrations. Dudek does not recommend additional soil sampling for OCPs, herbicides and/or arsenic. However, additional soil sampling could be requested by regulatory agencies for future permitting requirements.

The “best practices” mitigation options for initial fallowing plus “items of concern” at the site are estimated by Dudek to range in cost from a low of $1,000 per acre to $50,000 per acre, depending on fallowing options and the level of treatment and mitigation.

Probable Fallowing Treatment Costs:

Treatment ($ per acre)

Low Range – High Range

Basic Land Fallowing:

$1,000 $10,000

Bonded Fiber Matrix:

$5,000 $8,500

Passive Restoration:

$5,000 $35,000

Active Restoration:

$25,000 $50,000

Returning the acreage to its more “natural” condition is, of course, preferable, but the cost is relatively high. For example, to provide full active restoration to 160 acres, at $50K per acre, runs up a bill of $8 million, not including regulatory requirement costs, monitoring, and maintenance over a five-year period.

A final EA will flesh out these treatment options including recommended actions, timelines, and costs.

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