Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command

NAVFAC Southwest Seabees Help Remove Tree Houses in San Diego River

10/16/14 12:00 AM

By Mario Icari, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF) volunteers and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest Seabees worked together on a waste cleanup effort at San Diego River, 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 out to at local beaches."

NAVFAC Southwest Seabees assigned to Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego, San Clemente Island, 1220 Pacific Highway, and several Navy officers and chief petty officers from NAVFAC Southwest and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific were involved in the cleanup effort.

The cleanup involved removal of trash and the deconstruction of three large treehouse structures that were 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."

Seabee's 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 located in 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 and negatively impacts 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.


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