EL CAJON, Calif. — Crews from the Public Works Department put in a huge effort to clean up all the garbage and bulky items out of the Forrester Creek stormwater channel Wednesday.
“It’s tough work. Somebody’s got to do it,” said Mayor Bill Wells for the City of El Cajon. “I’m really proud of these men and women that are willing to go out there and do what’s right for the city and for all the people that live here.”
CBS 8 showed you this problem Tuesday after our viewers reached out to us asking for help dealing with homeless encampments along the stormwater channel embankment running along the north side of Interstate 8 near N 2nd Street. We spoke with people living nearby and they told us about their frustrations with all the trash clogging the storm drains.
“Health hazard definitely,” said Linda Rispoli who lives nearby. “That’s going to go down into our sewage and out into the ocean.”
We contacted the Mayor of El Cajon, Bill Wells, and the City Manager Graham Mitchell. They told us that they try to maintain the area regulary and that they have 17 miles of stormwater channel to clean. Wednesday morning, city officials contacted CBS 8 to let us know they were cleaning up the storm drains near N 2nd St.
For this job, it takes a crew of six and some heavy-duty machinery. Neighbors are grateful for the effort.
“Now that they’re cleaning it, I’m sure it’s going to be a lot better,” said neighbor Nihrin Alogaidi.
Workers pull out 72.64 tons of debris out of this stormwater channel every year. It’s no easy task but they try to stay on top of it as best they can.
“We’re obligated to do that, not only for cleanliness reasons, but also to make sure the stormwater is clean and safe and to make sure we don’t send things down into the ocean that don’t belong there, so you, it’s a constant battle,” said Mayor Wells.
The tough part about maintaining this area is the split jurisdictions. On one side of the fence, it’s the city’s responsibility, and on the other side closer to the freeway, it’s Caltrans property. When one side is cleared, the encampments just move to the other side of the fence.
“I think we work really well with Caltrans,” said Mayor Wells. “They do show up and help us out in that respect, and I think everybody’s working to try to mitigate the problem as best they can.”
And people living in the neighborhood appreciate that.
“This is great job, thank you for that,” said Ghanin Alogaidi.
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Watch Related: In July 1992, CBS 8 went into the El Cajon sewers to talk with the teens living below ground