Just out of sight from passing motorists, the California Department of Transportation is conducting a special study in the Imperial Valley.
The San Francisco-based company, URS Corp., is performing a contracted study of soil erosion control techniques for the arid deserts of the Southwest.
Twenty-four test plots stand long against the slope of the Dunaway Road exit on west Interstate 8. The slopes have been treated with binding agents to make the topsoil firm. Below, large funnels collect any water or sediment that washes down the hill and deposit it in dozens of barrels where it can be accurately measured.
The job of inspecting these test plots is generally a monthly endeavor. Water and soil collected in the basins is measured and logged and is usually insignificant. The only other visits to the station follow immediately behind the rain.
“This was a huge storm,” Sean Hudgens, a field scientist for URS Corp., said.