When rain started to finally fall in 2016, many in Visalia were worried. Thanks to the storm water sewer system and the Public Works Department rain events didn't bring Visalia to a standstill.
At the Monday, September 18th City Council meeting, Jim Ross, Public Works Manager and Adam Ennis, Public Works Director, presented to the Council an update on the maintenance activities within the City's storm water system and the related benefits to the City's groundwater recharge efforts.
"Many may not know that Visalia is managed using a storm water sewer sytem, which is a completely separate system from the sanitary sewer (wastewater) system," shared Ross.
An extensive network of underground pipelines channel storm water from roadways into the open waterways and ponding basins located throughout the city. Historically, rain events would overwhelm the storm system resulting in localized flooding and occasionally damage to private property.
In 2013, Visalia rate payers approved utilizing a portion of the monthly storm water fees, specifically the Kaweah Lake Enlargement fee, for general City storm system maintenance.
The approval funded three additional maintenance employees in the Stormwater Collection division and facilitated the transition from one crew doing only corrective maintenance to two crews doing corrective and preventive maintenance of the storm sewer system.
"In just one year, more than 1400 tons of debris was removed from the basins and waterways. Work in the sewer mains began in the downtown area and spiraled outward as work progressed," stated Ross. "More than 60 tons of debris was removed from storm sewer mains alone within a period of about two and one half years."
These preventive maintenance efforts have led to a significant reduction in storm related issues throughout the city. Compared to 2013-14, calls for service during the 2016-17 rainy season is down by about 75%, minor flooding of intersections was almost nonexistent, and rain-related overtime in Public Works as a whole was down on the order of 90%.
Rehabilitation work performed in ponding basins has resulted in the ability to percolate storm water rather than dispose of it into waterways that carry it away from the City. Approximately 22,000 to 25,000 acre feet of surface water received from the exchange agreement with Tulare Irrigation District during the 2016/2017 winter has been directed into these rehabilitated basins for groundwater recharge.
On hand for the presentation were the crews responsible for making all of this possible and City Council commended Juan Arreola, Matthew Campos, Mike Demmers, Armand Gonzalas, Saul Higareda, Ismael Meza, Hector Ramos, Jeff Riley, Cruz Ruiz, Frank Serna, and Mark Todd. Supervision and management are provided by Rick Paredez and Jim Ross, respectively, and the Public Works Department is led by Adam Ennis.
To learn more about the Public Works Department, visit them here.