Alameda Creek Alliance


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Rural Alameda Soil Dumping


Ensuring that massive soil imports in rural Alameda County do not harm senstive wildlife and damage creeks

Illicit landfills are a growing problem in eastern Alameda County. Ranchers and farmers are being paid to accept huge amounts of soil dumped onto their properties, often from construction sites around the Bay Area and potentially contaminated with toxics. Since this soil is ostensibly to be used for agricultural purposes it is exempted from any county oversight or regulation. This dirt importing has reached massive proportions in Sunol, unincorporated Livermore, and Pleasanton, up to up to a million cubic yards on some properties. There is potential harm to groundwater, creeks, and drainage and concerns about dust and air pollution.

Because of multiple citizen complaints, Alameda County imposed a temporary moratorium on importing soil to agricultural lands, but the moratorium was ignored by many landowners. The moratorium will expire soon, and Alameda County has been working on a new Soil Importing Ordinance to manage imported soil.

Unfortunately the ordinance has been watered down and does not fully address the environmental problems caused by soil dumping. The County is trying to exempt the ordinance from environmental review, even though the policy would allow sensitive wildlife habitats to be buried by up to 3 to 5 feet of imported soil, and exempts ephemeral and intermittent creeks from the policy. The policy could result in pollution of creeks, and killing of native wildlife, especially animals that depend on underground burrows, such as burrowing owls, tiger salamanders and red-legged frogs.

For more information:
Inform Sunol web page: Soil Importing into Unincorporated Alameda County
Sierra Club web page: Unregulated Landfills Are a Problem in Rural Alameda County