San Jacinto City Council reviews construction details of the EMWD water replenishment basins in San Jacinto

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The San Jacinto City Council presents retiring city engineer Habib Motlagh with a Certificate of Recognition and a signed bottle of wine Friday, Oct. 15, in honor of his 24 years of service to the city with Council members Alonso Ledezma and Crystal Ruiz, Mayor Russ Utz and City Manager Rob Johnson present.  Tony Ault photo

A detailed presentation of how the construction of the Mountain Avenue West Replenishment Basins and wells coming to 40 acres of land between Mountain Avenue and Villines Avenue was made by Eastern Municipal Water District at the Oct. 22 San Jacinto City Council meeting.

The $14 million project’s first dirt hauling phase will begin next month along with drilling a series of monitoring wells, Joe Mouawad, assistant general manager of Eastern Municipal Water District, said to the council.

San Jacinto Mayor Russ Utz, Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz and Councilman Alonso Ledezma attended the council meeting, and Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Kotyuk and Councilman Joel Lopez were excused from the night’s meeting.

Mouawad said H&H General Contractors Inc. won the $14 million construction bid. One of the H&H Construction engineers was in attendance at the meeting to answer questions.

Describing the project, Mouawad said the monitoring wells will be drilled around the two planned basins to determine the quantity and quality of water being stored. Some of the wells will be drilled 1,100 feet deep with drilling continuing seven days a week for six to nine months. Trucks will be hauling out approximately 370,000 cubic yards of dirt from the site making an estimated 29,000 truck trips. In addition to the wells H&H will construct a raw water lateral connection to the existing main pipeline in Esplanade Avenue on the south and other on-site conveyance piping and flow control and metering facilities.

A wrought iron fence will surround the site with a recreational walking path and appropriate landscaping. The walking path and landscaping will be turned over to the city for maintenance at the conclusion of the project.

Ledezma, after hearing the proposal said his concern was for the noise made by the well-drilling during the lengthy period of time.

“It is noisy,” he said and pointed out he had heard resident complaints about the drilling noise when their EMWD wells were re-drilled.

Mouswad assured the council that the contractor will do everything he can to reduce the noise and reduce the number of months it will take to finish the wells.

The council also voiced its concern about the damage to the roadways the heavy trucks will cause. Again, Mouawad said the damage will be limited to only a small portion of the roadway, and they will consider what may be needed to help repair it.

Mouwad said EMWD will give the council and city staff continuous updates on the projects progress and address issues as they arise.

The council also discussed the status of a submitted a grant application to the Department of Housing and Community Development for $160,000 under the Senate Bill 2 Planning Grant Program.

The city received confirmation Aug. 14, from the department that the grant was conditionally approved. The grant can be utilized for specific activities for the “preparation, adoption and implementation of plans that streamline housing approvals and accelerate housing production,” according to the grant language.

The department is administering the grant program and identified six Priority Policy Areas that ease access and reporting. Local governments proposing Priority Policy Areas are automatically deemed to accelerate housing production without any additional documentation or demonstration to the department.

One of the six PPAs includes local process improvements that improve or expedite local planning. As part of the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, the city council approved a $160,000 expenditure, offset by the grant, to replace the aging legacy permit tracking system, PermitsPlus.

By updating the permit tracking system to a modern, more efficient web-based service, the planning entitlement, building plan check and inspection processes timing was expected to decrease substantially, according to the staff reports.

The current permit system dates back to the early 1990s and was originally built for the Windows 3.1 operating system. It will be replaced.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.