Put the Teichert plan in place

A member of the Little Chico Creek Educational Consortium
Concerns were raised at the recent Bidwell Park and Playgrounds Commission meeting regarding the cost of managing the Teichert Ponds. City Councilmember Rick Keene has voiced this concern so often that it has become a cliché. This response appears to have become a rationalization for doing nothing to correct the problem of a biologically unbalanced habitat.

Comments from Keene and other councilmembers have expressed the fear that making improvements to the ponds would cause increased liability. This may be true to a degree, but the city assumes liability for other locales such as Horseshoe Lake, Bidwell Park and many other facilities it owns. The city is already liable for the contaminated storm drain water that flows into the ponds. This liability has not drawn much concern from the council or city. Other sources of liability are being created by the developer around the ponds, including the six-foot-high stone sound-abatement wall and the gabion wall adjacent to Rose River Avenue. Other cities, such as Stockton, have addressed the problem of liability and eutrophication of their ponds and are in the process of creating park areas on the banks.

Meanwhile, the city continues to reap the benefits of having an area to dispose of storm drain water without paying for rehabilitation of a once-balanced environment.

The city made a good trade by exchanging $350,000 in builders’ fees forgiveness for the ownership of the ponds. The maintenance outlay of money since 1982 has been about $85,000 for the clearance of the outlet plugged by beavers. None of this maintenance has been effective. The water still backs up and warms, and vegetation overgrows the ponds, all of which reduces light penetration and in turn causes oxygen depletion. Meanwhile, maintenance funds flow to the Fair Street detention pond with no restrictions from the city.

Some $155,000 has been appropriated by the city to study problems and to start implementing corrective measures for the pollution problems. However, this past year has seen little if any progress. Delays merely compound the problem and eventually create more concerns and a higher cost to correct them.

As far as a management plan costing money, the city already has a management plan in place. It includes access, educational and recreational components. Other interested citizens have submitted viable plans as well. The ponds do not lack for plans!

I believe that the taxpayers of Chico deserve a better return on their pond investment. The ponds were not originally built to serve as a water detention facility and need to be redesigned to serve as a multi-use potential. The Teichert Ponds have more to offer to the citizens of Chico than the more costly greenway being proposed for the Otterson Bridge Project.

Hopefully, the Chico City Council will consider development of the access and management of the Teichert Ponds as both a prudent and responsible investment. If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.