I thought we, the residents of the Diamond Springs area, had already fought our battle to keep the county from making the area their favorite dumping ground. But no, they want to dump on us again. Approximately 100 sites in the county were investigated for the new Western Slope Animal Shelter and — surprise — Diamond Springs is again the chosen location. This time the project will be situated even closer to homes than the MRF proposed in 2008, a fact glossed over in the Planning Department’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
Be aware, I love animals and completely admire the mission of the People for Animal Welfare in El Dorado County (PAWED) — caring for unwanted or abused animals. They, unfortunately, will have to deal with very unhappy neighbors, namely, the homeowners in the residential sub-division and much of the businesses in the business center.
The public is being told, “Don’t worry about it, all problems are minimal and will have little or no impact.” When you read the DEIR, however, it is apparent that proper investigation was not done and the writer’s lack of knowledge of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) standards and the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not been taken into consideration — or even thought of.
According to the project manager/planner from the county, the Diamond Springs site was chosen since it is close to the freeway and that makes transportation cheaper. Locating the shelter close to the freeway is the same argument county officials attempted to use to prove the MRF should be located in a residential area. Barely 200 feet away from homes, the shelter will actually cost the county money, not save. Any realtor — and I was one — can tell you that houses located near facilities producing odor, noise and attracting flies and vermin, while creating groundwater problems, will cause both residences and business to lose property value. These issues are not addressed in the DEIR, assumed to be of no sufficient impact, and are in direct conflict with the county’s own standards.
While the main focus of the shelter is dogs and cats, large animals will also be housed there. According to the project manager, from 25-28 horses are housed each year. He thought the maximum stay was three days. Is that one horse at a time or a group of horses? The urine and liquid from manure seeps into the ground. You can’t just pick it up and place it in plastic bags. What about recommended groundwater standards for the urine soaking into the ground? No one checked. The EPA could tell them.
Even if picked up twice daily, the flies and odor last. A single cow drops 120 pounds of wet manure daily with a horse dropping about two-thirds that amount. Again, the Project Manager was not aware of this and said he didn’t check it out. But, again in county-speak, “We don’t think that will be a problem.”
I love the shelter’s purpose and have four rescued pets myself. But this project is really badly planned, if planned at all. For example, the project people don’t think flies and vermin will be a problem at all — seriously? This plan is from the same county that lies to us, changes the General Plan at will and has created such an atmosphere of corruption and abuse of power at high levels that it has absolutely no credibility. If this is indeed the best place for the shelter, they sure need to prove it to us. Gone are the days when we give this county’s government our blind trust.