First rain bring concerns about pollution and erosion in North Bay fire areas

With a wet weekend on the horizon, the first since the devastating North Bay wildfires, officials at state and local agencies are beginning worry about what this winter's rains will carry into the bay.

"We are really concerned about all the toxins," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, the Executive Director of San Francisco Baykeeper. "When it rains, that debris just going to get washed into the water, especially because the trees are gone and there's going to be more sediment erosion."

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One area of concern will be the toxins left behind in so many destroyed neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and Napa, where amid the tons of ash and debris, there are paints, plastics, fuels, solvents and heavy metals.

"There are concerns with the household toxic products, just everyday things," explained Yvonne Addassi with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, "Tidy Bowl as an example of things you don't want going into the water."

In Napa County, the more serious long-term impact may lie high above the gutted neighborhoods like Silverado. That is in the several burned hillsides that now sit on several sides of the Napa Valley, thanks to the Tubbs, Atlas, and Nuns fires.

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"Our long-term concerns going into the winter are going to be related in large part to wildland areas, said Brian Bordona with the Napa County Building and Environmental Services Department, 'areas where steeper slopes, burned more severely than others and in turn have a greater susceptibility to erosion."

Bordona says the county is in the process of developing and implementing a series of erosion control measures in hard-hit areas.

The first rains could also help, as long as they aren't too hard, as the water will germinate any seeds that survived the fire, creating new growth, which will help stabilize the soil.

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