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Murrieta Creek Discussion: Wildomar Wants In

Supervisor Jeff Stone will ask fellow board members to approve formation of a Murrieta Creek Joint Powers Authority, comprised of county officials, and representatives from Murrieta and Temecula.

Wildomar Mayor Ben Benoit said his city needs to be included in any discussion about Murrieta Creek.

"It affects us," he said.

The creek runs through Wildomar and flooding is common in Benoit's city during heavy rains.

But Friday it was announced that Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone next week will push for passage of a resolution seeking to establish a four-way governing board to oversee flood containment modifications along Murrieta Creek to prevent a repeat of a disastrous flood along the waterway almost 20 years ago.

So far, the discussion leaves out Wildomar.

Benoit said he and city officials are pushing for more details and expect to have answers by Monday.

During the Board of Supervisors' regular meeting Tuesday, Stone will ask fellow board members to approve formation of a Murrieta Creek Joint Powers Authority, comprised of county officials, representatives from Murrieta and Temecula, as well as officials from the county Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

The purpose of the new body would be to prioritize and manage planned improvements along a seven-mile stretch of the creek that traverses both Murrieta and Temecula.

In mid-January 1993, several days of heavy rains caused the creek to overflow, flooding surrounding homes and business, resulting in roughly $100 million in damage.

According to Stone, in the aftermath, the federal government committed to covering 65 percent of modifications to the creek, including dredging and widening the channel, in a four-phase project with an estimated price tag of $55 million. But over the last decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not made any changes except for a half-mile portion of the creek's downstream end.

"Our local members of Congress have yet to be successful in obtaining the appropriations of these federal monies to complete construction of phases 2, 3 and 4," Stone wrote.

He said the Flood Control and Water Conservation District has $30 million in taxpayer funds set aside for creek improvements, and there's no time to waste putting the money to work.

In March, Stone met publicly with officials from Murrieta and Temecula about moving ahead to finish the project without the feds -- a proposal that was well-received.

The Murrieta Creek Joint Powers Authority, if created, would decide how to acquire additional funding for the project, which would take around seven to 10 years to complete.

A draft JPA agreement will be drawn up by the Office of County Counsel after the cities of Murrieta and Temecula pass their own resolutions, according to Stone.

"The next flood will likely be even more devastating," Stone wrote in an introduction to his proposal. "The lack of sufficient federal funding (for) the design and construction of this necessary infrastructure has resulted in continuing risk to the public and their property." --City News Service and Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

Ken Mayes May 05, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Benoit's city, so is this what the "Fiefdom of Wildomar" is now known as. I wonder how much this is going to cost us and where is the money going to come from, if they are going to borrow it they better hurry before we default on what we already owe. If its is anything like the last JPA for the "Taj Mahal" of dog pounds we will be on the hook for the lions share.
Martha L. Bridges May 05, 2012 at 03:20 PM
As usual with articles about Wildomar, there is much more to this issue than meets the eye! There is a developer who has been seeking approval to build an expensive gated community located on the portion of Murrieta Creek within Wildomar, which is at least partially located on a known flood plain. News flash for those who are comparatively new to the area; it always a bad plan to build on an uncontrolled flood plain. Residents in both Murrieta and Wildomar have expressed their objections vehemently to such a project for years. However, with the current Wildomar city council’s overtly “developer friendly” attitude, I’ve been told we will soon be seeing another attempt to push this foolish project through the ever-so-flexible planning department. For those of us who have been around long enough to have seen the destructive 1993 flooding, we know how damaging it was and how dangerous the next one will be. There should probably be a Joint Powers Authority formed to deal with the needed flood containment modifications along Murrieta Creek, but if a seat at the table is going to cost Wildomar taxpayers’ dollars, we simply cannot afford it. P.S. Wildomar has never been, isn't currently, and never will be “Benoit's” city.
WHAT?? May 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Little Ben wants in on something he apparently doesn't have the capacity to understand. . .I envision him and other council members (with the exception of Bob Cashman) jumping up and down at the City Manager's door chanting "we wanna be part of this, we wanna be part of this". . . .not even knowing what "this" is. Council members: educate yourselves first, then try to apply critical thinking skills to the issue at hand BEFORE you speak to the press. Otherwise you're just an embarrassment to OUR City. Wishful thinking on my part, since we haven't seen this to date. Sheryl Ade
Tonto May 05, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Flood control is a non issue in this country. Ohio River Valley, Missisippi River Valley, New Orleans, etc., etc. You just blow it off to paying flood insurance and build in the bottom of the river bed :)
Ken Mayes May 06, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Martha Murrieta Creek would not be an issue if the city planners follow the law. Its funny how CEQA which has been around since 1970 is only now a tool being used to make developers conform, in the past the county totally ignored it and the city is trying like hell to do the same. A prime example is where county flood constructed a channel under Palomar to connect the Windsong Development to the creek because when the county approved the development the developers responsibility ended at the tract boundary but in doing so they left the existing tributary to the creek unconnected to this channel allowing it to continue to flow over Palomar. These 2 points where they meet Palomar are less than 50 feet apart. Murrieta and Temecula did exactly the same thing, a developers responsibility ended a the development boundary and what happened to the water from there, well lets get someone else to pay for a fix.
Martha L. Bridges May 06, 2012 at 06:18 PM
For those of you who don't know, the long planned flood containment modifications along Murrieta Creek that have actually been approved STOP at Tenaja Road, which is well down stream from the area that is of concern to Wildomar and Murrieta along the border that separates the two cities. Some of you might find it helpful to look at the Wildomar West Flood Zone Map for this part of Wildomar at: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/swcounty/region-stone-proposes-takeover-of-murrieta-creek-project/article_2537619a-252d-59bd-b929-bd7b083bdb88.html While the Northern part of Murrieta and Southern part of Wildomar have been and potentially would be impacted by flooding, there was never any approved plan to include these areas in the original, approved project - and there was never any funding to cover any work in the area. You can see a map of the approved project at: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/swcounty/region-stone-proposes-takeover-of-murrieta-creek-project/article_2537619a-252d-59bd-b929-bd7b083bdb88. If Ben Benoit had reviewed this information, he would understand why Wildomar was not invited to join the JPA.

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