San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA-1585-DR
ApplicantVentura County
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#111-99111-00
PW ID#766
Date Signed2007-11-27T05:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1585-DR-CA, Ventura County, CA, Project Worksheet 766San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct

Cross-reference: Facility Eligibility, Inactive Facility, Historic Preservation, Special Considerations

Summary: The San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct (Aqueduct) was built in the early 1800s, and destroyed by floods in 1862. The primary surviving section, located on Canada Larga Road, became a local, state, and national landmark and was bought by Ventura County (County) in 1982. Winter storms in 2005 damaged this remaining section of the Aqueduct, causing it to break into pieces. Project Worksheet (PW) 766 was written for $65,045 to upright the Aqueduct and “put the pieces back together,” and included a hazard mitigation proposal of $14,925 to protect it from further damage. FEMA determined that the Aqueduct was not a facility and therefore did not qualify for permanent restoration. However,
PW 333 was written for $29,130 to fund emergency protective measures to stabilize the remains and fill in sink holes around it. The County submitted its first appeal on June 27, 2006, claiming that the Aqueduct as an historic structure qualified as a facility and was actively used for cultural purposes at the time of the disaster. In its first appeal response, FEMA determined that the Aqueduct was a facility, but that it had not been used for water distribution for more than 100 years and therefore, was not eligible for permanent restoration. The County submitted its second appeal on June 7, 2007. It claimed that the Aqueduct was in active use as an historic structure and that it needed repair to continue its predisaster purpose. The County also stated that PW 333 was prepared without proper review by the County or OES. It requested $79,969 for the restoration of the Aqueduct as written in PW 766.

Issues: 1. Is the Aqueduct a public facility?
2. Was the Aqueduct in active use at the time of the disaster?

Findings: 1. Yes, the Aqueduct is a culturally significant historic structure.

2. Yes, the Aqueduct was in active use as an historic landmark at the time of the disaster.

Rationale: Section 102 of the Stafford Act, 44 CFR §206.221(h), 44 CFR §206.226(k)

Appeal Letter

November 27, 2007

Paul Jacks
Governor’s Authorized Representative
Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
3650 Schriever Avenue
Mather, California 95655

Re: Second Appeal – Ventura County, PA ID 111-99111-00, FEMA-1585-DR-CA San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct, Project Worksheet (PW) 766

Dear Mr. Jacks:

This letter is in response to the above referenced second appeal forwarded by your office on July 30, 2007. Ventura County (County) is appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of its first appeal dated March 22, 2007. Winter storms in 2005 eroded the soil around the San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct (Aqueduct), causing it to fall and break into pieces. The County is requesting $79,969 to repair the facility and mitigate further damage.

As explained in the enclosed analysis, we have determined that the Aqueduct is a public facility that was in active use at the time of the disaster. Therefore, it is eligible for permanent restoration. However, to maintain the historical integrity of the Aqueduct, the scope of work is unlikely to “put all the pieces back together,” as written in PW 766. FEMA will develop the actual scope of work in consultation with State historic preservation experts. By copy of this letter, I am requesting that the Regional Administrator take immediate action to implement this decision.

Please inform the County of my decision. My determination constitutes the final decision on this matter as set forth in 44 CFR §206.206.

Sincerely,
/s/
Carlos J. Castillo
Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate

Enclosure

cc: Nancy Ward
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region IX

Appeal Analysis

BACKGROUND

The seven-mile long San Buenaventura Mission Aqueduct (Aqueduct) was built in the early 1800s to carry water to the San Buenaventura Mission. Floods destroyed the majority of the Aqueduct in 1862. The two surviving sections were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Ventura County (County) bought the Aqueduct in 1982 and has maintained it through the County parks department as a historic landmark. The Aqueduct is featured on historical tours of the area and is culturally significant.

Flooding caused by winter storms in 2005 undermined and eroded the soil around the Aqueduct, causing it to fall and break into two large pieces. Project Worksheet (PW) 766 was prepared to “upright the rock and grout Aqueduct and put all the pieces back together.” The cost estimate totaled $72,044 ($7,000 was included as a line item for permits, but was not included in any of the previous appeals). The PW included a hazard mitigation proposal (HMP) for $14,925 to protect the Aqueduct from future damage. The PW was obligated for $0 because the Aqueduct was not considered a facility. However, PW 333 was written as emergency protective measures for $29,130 to stabilize the Aqueduct and fill in sink holes around it.

First Appeal

The County submitted its first appeal on June 27, 2006. It asked for $65,045 to repair the Aqueduct. It stated that the Aqueduct is a facility and therefore it is qualified for restoration. The County provided evidence that the Aqueduct is in use as a historic landmark and stated that it is included on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic property. It said that PW 766 was written with the understanding that the actual scope of work would be determined in consultation with qualified experts in order to comply with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470). The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) transmitted the appeal on September 15, 2006, and recommended that FEMA approve the County’s request and fund the project for a total of $79,969, to include the HMP.

FEMA denied the first appeal on March 22, 2007, stating that the Aqueduct is considered a public facility in accordance with 44 CFR §206.221(h); however, it was not in active use at the time of the disaster and is therefore not eligible for restoration as per 44 CFR §206.226(k). In addition, because its predisaster purpose was that of a landmark and historic property, it does not need repair to continue with that purpose. FEMA concluded that because the facility was not in active use at the time of the disaster (i.e., it had not been used as a water distribution facility since the 1860s), it is not eligible for restoration.
Second Appeal

The County submitted its second appeal request on June 7, 2007. It disagreed with FEMA’s conclusion that the Aqueduct was not in active use and that it did not need repair to continue its predisaster purpose. The County also stated that PW 333 was prepared without proper review by the County or OES. OES submitted the County’s second appeal request for $79,969 on July 30, 2007, supporting the County’s claim that the facility was in active use at the time of the disaster and should be restored to predisaster condition.

DISCUSSION

Section 102 of the Stafford Act defines public facilities to include public buildings, structures or systems owned by a State or local government, including those used for cultural purposes. The Aqueduct is a public facility. Facilities that are not actively used at the time of a disaster may not be funded in accordance with 44 CFR §206.226(k). However, the purpose of this facility was that of a historic landmark and as such, it was in active use at the time of the disaster.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program typically funds facilities that are engineered or designed for a specific capacity or function, and therefore, restoring facilities to their predisaster design is a measurable objective. For archeological remains that are naturally deteriorating, “work to restore eligible facilities on the basis of the design of such facilities as they existed immediately prior to the disaster” (see 44 CFR §206.226) creates challenges. The facility’s predisaster function was that of a historic landmark. Returning this facility to predisaster condition may not require that the County “put all the pieces back together.” In fact, that action could further denigrate the historic integrity of the facility. Stabilization may be the best course of action to prolong the existence of the Aqueduct, maintain its integrity, and minimize deterioration.

Because this facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, federal action (funding) requires that FEMA comply with NHPA requirements. FEMA’s Regional Environmental Officer (REO) will work in consultation with the County and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) to determine the appropriate scope of work to “restore” this facility. The consultation should result in a scope of work that complies with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation (48 FR 44716). The eligible work may in fact resemble that of PW 333, which was written to stabilize the facility and prevent further damage.

CONCLUSION

The Aqueduct is a public facility in accordance with 44 CFR §206.221(h) and was in active use at the time of the disaster. Therefore, it is eligible for funding under section 406 of the Stafford Act. Accordingly, the appeal is granted. FEMA, the State and County will work in consultation with historic preservation specialists, in accordance with NHPA requirements, to determine an eligible scope of work. The eligible scope of work and costs must be reconciled with those obligated in PW 333 to ensure that no duplication of funding occurs. In addition, the required conditions placed on PW 333 as a result of environmental review apply to this PW as well.
Last updated February 4, 2020