High winds blow dirt and debris from new subdivision

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A north wind whipped through Winters on Monday, Oct. 11 casting dirt, dust and debris into town from the construction sites in the new northwestern subdivision.

According to a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Company weather station covering the northwestern portion of Winters, wind speeds on Oct. 11 reached 20 mph by 7:10 a.m. and increased throughout the day to reach a high of 34 mph before dropping below 20 mph at 6:40 p.m. Wind gusts measuring between 32 and 49 mph were also recorded during this time.

PG&E issued an advance red flag warning on Sat., Oct. 9 for Monday’s wind forecast that threatened to cut power to approximately 217 Winters customers. Winters City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa sent out an email cautioning that PG&E anticipated high sustained winds up to 40 mph and the Winters Express and Winters Police Department posted Facebook notices of the red flag warning.

The message was apparently missed by developers.

“We’ve reminded the builders and contractors again about housekeeping … They should be cleaning up at the end of every day and certainly buttoning up their sites prior to high winds,” Trepa said when asked about the oversight.

Developers have responsibilities under the city’s Conditions of Approval that require them to employ dust control measure to minimize dust during all phases of construction. Potentially windblown materials are to be watered or covered and construction areas and streets wet swept.

Construction and grading areas, as well as soil stockpiles, are to be covered or temporarily revegetated when left for long periods. Some revegetation efforts did commence days after the windstorm by Meritage Homes on and around their approximately block long, 15-foot-high and 45-foot-wide dirt pile along Taylor Street.

Windblown dirt can aggravate health issues like asthma, allergies, COPD and causes eye irritation. It also accumulates on solar panels, dirties pools and spas, seeps through windows, doors, crevices and cracks and layers dirt onto sidewalks, patio furniture, automobiles and the street. Once settled on the street, dirt and dust is again airborne by moving vehicles.

In accordance with their Conditions of Approval, construction activity in the subdivision is limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday only (holidays excluded) and Saturday and Sunday work is not permitted.

On Friday and Saturday, hydroseeding took place at Three Oaks Park and on Sunday morning in the Meritage Homes development at the dirt stockpile

Building concerns and violations can be reported to the Winters Building Division by email at building.division@cityofwinters.org or by calling 530-794-6708.

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