Silicon Valley Clean Water (SVCW, formerly South Bayside System Authority) recently held five community meetings at our wastewater treatment facility in Redwood Shores. The goal was to share with our neighbors the need for the 63” Force Main Pipeline Reliability Improvement project, the options we are exploring, and to listen to questions, concerns and ideas from our neighbors.
We are in the very early planning stages for replacing the 45-year old reinforced concrete pipeline that carries wastewater from our pump station near the San Carlos airport to our treatment facility at 1400 Radio Road in southeastern Redwood Shores.
Concrete pipelines like the one we must replace deteriorate over time as they carry wastewater. And as the bay mud in which it sits settles over time, the joints every 12 feet move and occasionally leak, requiring repairs along streets and in backyards.
As sewer pipes from buildings to the street and sewer pipes in the street age, they leak rain water into the pipes. This results in higher peak flows reaching SVCW pumps and pipelines. These higher peak flows translate into higher pressures in the existing 45-year old pipeline, which, in turn, increases the risk of leaks.
Replacing this pipe is essential to safely and reliably manage our flows into the future and minimize human health and environmental risks. It is not a means of creating additional capacity for new hookups to the sewage conveyance system.
Our research and planning is focused on how to replace this outdated pipeline with the least disruption to the Redwood Shores community during construction and the greatest long-term value to all our customers. After gathering preliminary information, our next step was to meet and talk with our neighbors about the various options.
We were very pleased with the meeting participation – approximately 100 residents attended the five sessions. We were also delighted with the dynamic and constructive conversations we engaged in with our neighbors.
We learned that, like most things, there are tradeoffs to all the various options we are studying and that our neighbors have a wealth of ideas. The four options we are initially considering are an “in-street” alignment mostly along Redwood Shores Parkway, an “in-levee” alignment mostly in the levee, an in-lagoon alignment following the lagoon system within Redwood Shores, and in-slough alignment mostly in Steinberger Slough.
What We Learned From Our Neighbors:
Residents are concerned about the traffic impacts of the in-street option. Many see three to four years of disruption as undesirable and prefer this option be a last resort. Concern regarding the driving of sheet pile close to homes along the roadway was also expressed as potentially causing damage to the homes.
Residents better understand why the in-slough option is not currently considered feasible: there are two protected species, the salt harvest mouse and clapper rail, along the slough.
While the in-levee alignment takes the least amount of time and financial investment, there are reasonable concerns about impacts to residents’ property and how those impacts might be mitigated. There are also concerns about the levee integrity and potential impact to nearby protected species. We attempted to make clear during the meetings that, if studies show there are environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated, we will not pursue this option.
Though the in-lagoon alignment is considered to be very challenging from a construction and an environmental standpoint (water quality), as a result of initial community feedback, this option will be further examined to determine if the impacts can be mitigated. SVCW has scheduled a meeting with regulatory agencies in early April to further investigate the feasibility of the in-lagoon option (this may also add more information to the in-slough option).
Many also offered ideas about alternate routes, including using Marine Parkway as an alternative in-street alignment, and also asked about the potential of “slip-lining” the existing concrete pipe with a new, flexible and seamless High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe to meet our future flow needs. We will study these and any other options that are brought to our attention or that we find, as we proceed further through the process.
With the initial neighborhood meetings complete, we will now take everything we heard and learned and spend the next couple months conducting additional research and feasibility studies to further refine our options for replacing the 45-year old concrete force main. We will continue to keep the community informed of our progress as we move through the feasibility studies.
Once these feasibility studies by our consultant experts are complete, SVCW staff will make recommendations to the SVCW Commission on which option or options to pursue. These feasibility studies will be made available to the public and additional input will be sought from the community. Once the Commission selects an option or options to pursue, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review process will begin. This review process will take an estimated nine to 12 months to complete, and provides additional opportunity for public review and input.
If you’d like to receive updates by email or have any comments or questions, please complete the online survey (duplicate of the survey provided at the neighborhood meetings) at www.svcw.org or email us at email@example.com
SVCW is a joint powers authority (JPA) that owns and operates a regional wastewater treatment plant and related wastewater pumping and transmission facilities. The JPA members are the cities of Belmont, Redwood City, and San Carlos, and the West Bay Sanitary District (which provides sanitary sewer collection services to the cities of Menlo Park, Portola Valley, and portions of Atherton, Woodside, East Palo Alto, and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County). The individual members of the JPA own and operate the sanitary sewer collection systems within their respective jurisdictions. SVCW owns and operates the wastewater treatment plant as well as the sanitary sewer force mains and pump stations that convey sewage to the treatment plant.