Trash and human waste seepage create contamination considerations for Atascadero Mutual Water Co.
For slightly over a yr now, homeless individuals have been visiting or dwelling within the riverbed behind the Atascadero Mutual Water Firm’s facility on Sycamore Highway. Over time, the encampments have grown in dimension and quantity that AMWC is contemplating closing all entry for individuals to the riverbed, together with the favored Juan Bautista De Anza Path, to try to impede individuals from tenting.
The Atascadero Mutual Water Firm stated it might need to shut entry to the Juan Bautista De Anza Path to cease individuals from tenting or littering alongside the Salinas River. Picture by Brian Williams
“Properly proper now, we face what the water firm would name a trespass situation,” Atascadero Mutual Water Firm John Neil stated to The . “We prohibit tenting on Water Firm property. It’s accessible to the general public for mountain climbing, biking and equestrian use, however not tenting. We’ve people which can be principally dwelling within the river backside, and they’re crossing our property and chopping our fences. They’re hauling couches and purchasing carts and all that into the river backside, which in the end the Water Firm goes to be accountable to wash up.”
AMWC owns the land on the west aspect of the Salinas River however doesn’t personal the precise river backside itself, which means they’ll shut off all entry to the riverbed. There are a handful of points the Water Firm stated they’re going through beginning with an extra of particles within the river reminiscent of couches and purchasing carts. Neil said they pull virtually a dozen of out every week.
Other than the particles harming the pure ecosystems of the river, it’s doubtlessly beginning to have an effect on the water’s purity on account of people utilizing the river backside as their lavatory.
“First, it’s worthwhile to perceive our system slightly bit. We’ve our deep wells and our shallow wells,” Neil stated. “Shallow wells are those that pump from the alluvium of the Salinas River, and we have now had some points with bacteriological contamination that we actually haven’t skilled prior to now. I wish to say correlation is just not causation, however the people which can be tenting within the riverbed are utilizing the river as their rest room facility.”
Whereas the reply generally may be calling the Atascadero Police Division, its jurisdiction is simply on the west aspect of the riverbank whereas the suitable aspect is privately owned. Which means, if these dwelling within the river transfer to the opposite aspect, or are staying within the center, that’s not metropolis property. The road between personal property and metropolis property is arbitrarily drawn down the center of the river.
The Atascadero Mutual Water Firm reached out to the California Division of Fish and Wildlife that screens waterways however has not but acquired any assist. AMWC is asking on the neighborhood for an answer earlier than they shut down all entry to a preferred metropolis path.
Homelessness has grow to be a extra frequent subject of dialog in San Luis Obispo County and particularly in North County. In accordance with a 2019 social companies report from the county’s Level In Time Depend, homelessness has elevated practically 32 % since 2017 throughout the county. The report, which got here out in August of 2019, said that there have been 1,483 homeless individuals in SLO County throughout a one-day census in January.
“In our county, there are about 1,500 individuals who had been counted that had been unhoused,” stated Wendy Lewis, President of the El Comino Homeless Group shelter. “And what’s the correlation again to why they’re within the riverbed is in our county, between us and Prado 40 [the shelter in San Luis Obispo], there are about 150 shelter beds. There may be additionally one other round 150 home violence shelter beds, so about 300 shelter beds in our county with no less than 1,500 individuals experiencing homelessness. There simply isn’t sufficient alternate locations for individuals to get companies, particularly that in a single day shelter piece.”
ECHO is a 60-bed shelter offering an in a single day residential program that has wrap-around companies. Which means it’s not for people simply to come back in and have a mattress, however for people who find themselves coming in dedicated to what they should do to make progress on the purpose of discovering housing. It’s one in every of solely two shelters within the county.
The native shelter is presently attempting to construct a refuge in Paso Robles to assist these attempting to safe housing. ECHO additionally started outreach past its partitions with its Avenue Outreach Program, sending managers to encampments with emergency luggage of meals and water and facemasks and hand sanitizer, amongst different issues.
“We hear it’s a homeless disaster very often, however we see it as a humanitarian disaster,” Lewis stated. “Particularly throughout COVID, individuals experiencing homelessness are 4 occasions extra more likely to die in the event that they get it.”
In accordance with these closest to the state of affairs, it’s not one that can go away if ignored and may quickly end result within the lack of public entry for everybody.
“We don’t have a date sure for closing it off. We wish to take each treatment that could be out there to us earlier than we go that far,” Neil stated. “Our purpose is to carry public consideration to the water high quality points related to these encampments which can be so near the neighborhood water provide. We’d wish to encourage residents who frequently use the property and witness the air pollution points attributable to these encampments to contact council members and the useful resource businesses.”
Folks wishing to donate time or cash to ECHO can go to its web site at echoshelter.org/.
Getting via this collectively, Atascadero