County Approves $250k for Repairs to New Salinas River Dam
July 8, 2011
In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors unanimously authorized agency staff to spend up to a $250,000 for repairs at the Salinas River Diversion Facility near Marina.
The two dams that comprise the facility divert water to Castroville farmers for irrigation as part of the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project.
"When you have a dam in place and there is erosion occurring, it becomes an emergency," says Brent Buche, chief of operations and maintenance and assistant general manager.
The facility first began diverting water in April 2010. That such a serious problem emerged just a year into operations is "disappointing," Buche says.
And he hopes that it's not just normal operating procedure: "What actually caused this? Is it due to the flood flows that came through in March?" Buche says. "There’s a lot of questions right now and the majority of them are unanswered. We’re scrambling to get some answers. The bigger question is, how do we get the water off the site?" Until a contractor can build a temporary coffer dam that enables them to drain the site, there's no way to know the extent of the damage and whether it's an isolated incident until they can drain the area and bring on engineers to investigate. Based on a preliminary investigation, Buche believes there's a 10 to 15 foot-deep pit formed by rock and sediment.
"The worst case scenario is we would stop delivering irrigation water to the growers," Buche says. But he expects the problem to be solved before it comes to that.
Buche expects Oakland-based engineering firm E2 Consulting, which had been the construction manager on the facility, to bid on the repairs. He expects the embattled firm RMC, caught up in Regional Water Project conflict of interest drama with former MCWRA board member Steve Collins, not to bid on the project.