This weeks update in the rain and trash edition!
First, the saga of the rain and the detention pond:
- Over about a 36 hour period, we experienced almost 3.5 inches of rain.
- Fun Fact- A hundred year storm in one which brings 5” of rain in a 24 hour period! So, we have basically been pretty close and on January 16/17 we received almost 3 inches in 3 hours.
- We have brought in four (4) additional pumps and were successful in keeping the pond at a manageable level, even with periods of heavy flow overnight. The pond is now drained and we have turned all of the pumps off and have placed a huge 8” pump next to the cemetery if we ever need to really move some water. We will monitor the pond through the weekend and we can immediately turn the pumps back on when needed.
- City Staff worked 36 hours straight moving water, sandbagging and operating equipment around to prevent issues in the area with this weeks storm.
- “The good news” of Wednesdays rain is that we were able to see the flows in the daylight and found a breach in a canal which is supposed to flow into Dry Creek but was literally flooding into the detention pond at a rate of thousands of gallons a minute. With the assist of an excavator and sandbagging, we have been able to close the canal breach which enabled us to draw the pond down to a point where we can stop/limit pumping operations. We have also found an additional external source (not supposed to go into the pond) sending approximately 1,000 gallons per minute into the pond but do not have a solution for that area. A major frustration was the fact that we could not seem to catch up with all the pumping. Hopefully fixing the breach will allow us to catch up.
The discovery of the canal breach answers a lot of questions for us. Knowing that an external source was pouring thousands of gallons into the pond which are not supposed to go into the pond is a big piece of information. The breach, combined with the non-operation of the facility are at the root of the issues we are dealing with.
- We were notified today about an additional delay in getting the pond pumping system online. Our engineering staff is working to find a solution. I will keep people in the loop in the developments regarding this.
- We have tried to avoid pumping into the streets, but bringing in the additional pumps has facilitated a need to do so. You can only put so many pumps on to one pipe!
- Kudos to the Public Works Crew led by Eric Lucero and the entire Winters Fire Team who have been working tirelessly to protect everyone’s homes.
- Thank you for the understanding of the neighbors and folks on Foxglove, Main and Ivy Loop. Lot’s of understandable frustration by a lot of people.
Trash, overages and penalties:
Question 1- Why am I now being billed by Waste Management for over filling my trash container.
Waste Management has been notifying residents about overages (trash spilling beyond the capacity of the containers and contamination on the trash system. Warnings and additional fees are now being assessed which is allowed for under their contract agreement.
We have had a number of commercial and residential customers call City Hall regarding getting bills for overages from WM. Essentially folks are mad that they have been doing this for a while and are now getting charged. In regard to this (and overloading the containers), there is a common sense component which needs to be applied. A lot like rolling stop signs and driving 70 mph on CR 31 to DAVIS, you know you are supposed to stop and drive slower, then getting pulled over and being upset for the ticket. Not much we can say about that.
Question 2- I am mad at WM for the additional charge and want to hire another trash company to pick up my trash. Why does the City give them the exclusive business for the entire City?
The exclusive franchise for waste pickup brings an enormous benefit of economy of scale, convenience and a lack of a chaotic enterprise to a community. The waste industry is a little more complicated than it seems and is highly regulated. Imagine having 3-4 different haulers picking up on different days of the week, with different equipment and different methods (imagine having trash containers on the streets every day). Also, imagine not being able to get a pickup, especially in the County areas which are essentially a loser financially for the franchised hauler for those areas. The waste management of refuse in a community is a big deal which requires uniformity and consistency in its operation. Similar to having one water and sewer system.
Question 3- How are they determining that it was me that contaminated the load or I exceeded the capacity of my trash container and am charged for an overage?
Smart technology and computers on each trash truck is now allowing the drivers to explain and document issues on their routes. There are now multiple cameras on the trucks allowing the driver to identify contamination, overages and other issues. Contamination is a huge issue because one stop can determine the difference between a load going to the recycling facility versus the landfill which has significantly higher costs and lost opportunity for diversion. Recycling and green waste/organic programs save resources, capacity in our landfills and ultimately reduce costs to the consumer (the economic component is a huge consideration).
Have a nice weekend!