By Mario Icari, NAVFAC Southwest Public Affairs
NAVFAC Southwest Seabees assigned to self-help Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego San Clemente Island and 1220 Pacific Highway, along with San Diego River Park Foundation volunteers and other Navy personnel, worked together on a waste clean-up effort along the river in San Diego, Oct. 1. U.S. Navy Photo
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest Seabees and San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF) volunteers worked together on a waste clean-up effort at San Diego River, Calif., Oct. 1.
“Our guys, along with the volunteers, work great as a team,” said Builder 1st Class Demar Machuca, a NAVFAC Southwest Seabee. “How we planned it as a team came together and it was shown on what we accomplished today. The foundation was very impressed and our Seabees are getting thanked for how they dedicated time and know-how to help our community out, especially since we all share the beaches here in San Diego and this stuff ends up on the shore where we take our families.”
The San Diego River clean-up effort included NAVFAC Southwest Seabees assigned to Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego, San Clemente Island and 1220 Pacific Highway; and Navy officers and chief petty officers from NAVFAC Southwest and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.
The clean-up involved removal of trash and the deconstruction of three large treehouse structures found to be inhabited by groups of local homeless people in the San Diego River areas near the intersection of Interstate 805 and Interstate 8 underpass.
“I have the utmost respect for the Seabees,” said Doug Taylor, San Diego River Park Foundation river ambassador. “I appreciate their help for creating a better future for the San Diego River. The impact to the river is tremendous. We are out here today working together to clean the river and give it a better future. We’ll probably fill two 40-yard dumpsters completely full with trash and debris just today.”
Seabees were the primary group involved in the deconstruction of the tree houses due to their expertise in demolition work. The SDRPF volunteers were the primary group involved in removing the trash from the surrounding areas. Both groups will be involved in hauling out the debris to a dumpster.
“We saved the community and the foundation over $15,000 in contractor fees if they would have hired someone to demo, and another $5,000 to haul the trash,” said Machuca.
The tree houses and their former occupants were relocated to a sensitive riparian (river bank) habitat.
The tree houses caused a significant amount of trash and debris to be washed up the river during rain storms, which leads directly to the Pacific Ocean. Hazardous materials such as latrines, paint and electronics contaminate the soil and ground water, negatively impacting the river ecosystem.
A large portion of trash was located on the south bank of the San Diego River and in the river water itself. Removal of the waste will ensure that it doesn’t end up in the ocean, stops further contamination of the soil and ground water, and allows plants to return to the area.
Seabees took the lead in the deconstruction and relocation of tree houses during the waste clean-up effort along the San Diego River on Oct. 1.