Officials in Northern California are bracing for the area's first storm this weekend. A cold front from Canada is expected to bring rain as early as Friday.
And that's cause for concern for many in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, where last month's fires scorched thousands of acres. Now, local agencies are facing new challenges, including potentially toxic runoff from burn zones.
Everyday contaminants like propane, paint, and household cleaners have already been a concern for cleanup crews. As for the exact chemicals that could show up in storm runoff, "It's really unknown," says Josh Curtis, environmental program manager for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. "We don't know what things are in those homes."
The big effort we're looking at is trying to mitigate any ability of those materials to leave those sites and go into our storm drains, which, as everyone knows, leads to our streams and our oceans.
We're working with the local communities to ensure that street sweeping happens, that storm drains are plugged.
We're looking at a plan to collect stormwater and see about disposing of it in a way that doesn't put it back in the stormwater system and then to our creeks.
It's really about trying to make sure that the stuff that is there can't make it to our streams and we're doing that work as fast as we can.