Sewer in Deer Creek |

Sewer in Deer Creek

Deer Creek has been western Nevada County’s sewer leach line since the Gold Rush. I fished Deer Creek under the Pine Street Bridge in Nevada City for trout beginning about 1949 but we didn’t eat them because the hospital and homes above town dumped raw sewage into the creek. I moved from Nevada City to Smartville in 1957 and began fishing Deer Creek for steelhead where it enters the Yuba River. In 1960 I caught a nine-pound beauty but the average size was three to five pounds. I once worked as a ranch hand on the Van Tiger Cattle Ranch that bordered Deer Creek now under LWW. There weren’t any visible signs of sewer up and down Deer Creek in those days because there were far fewer people. After Lake Wildwood was completed in 1969 the gravel for salmon spawning beds at the mouth of Deer Creek on the Yuba River began to disappear. In a few years as the development of LWW progressed Deer Creek became visually disgusting, scummy, foamy, oily, clogged with algae and foul smelling. The environmental movement began and the environmentalists and DFG went after the miners, loggers and cattle ranchers in an effort to protect the watercourses. They ignored the actual polluters (private septic systems and county operated sewer treatment plants) resulting in severe damage to Deer Creek and the fisheries.

In 1988 I began mining boulders from the mouth of Deer Creek. I restored gravel beds where possible. Sewer spills were a common occurrence so every effort was made to avoid the water by this person, my children, grandchildren, friends and customers. Nevada City is on record for dumping new sewage into Deer Creek long after it became a hotbed of environmentalism. Poison from the closed Nevada County landfill was trucked to LWW’s treatment plant and probably entered Deer Creek during accidental sewer spills. Attempts by land owners below LWW to bring attention to this real pollution problem has brought contemptuous public statements by residents upstream and no real action to clean up the mess. See for more information.

Ralph Mullican

Deer Creek Anadromous

Fish Studies


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