Published June 13th, 2018
Kwan gets first stab at reduced storm drain master plan
By Sophie Braccini
The defeated Proposition 218 storm drain fee measure sent Public Works Director Edric Kwan and his team back to the drawing board to design a new minimalist approach to storm drain maintenance in order to protect the town as well as possible against further infrastructure decay and catastrophic events.
The director presented to the audit and finance committee his proposition for a reduced storm drain master plan on May 30.
Kwan explained that the storm water fee would have generated $787,500 of revenue annually for a program that would have covered $378,100 in high priority capital improvement projects, a $254,400 operations and maintenance shortfall, and a $155,000 Cleanwater Program requirement.
The proposed reduced storm water program would instead receive $254,000 a year from the general fund, and address portions of the operations and maintenance, and of the Cleanwater Program mandate, but would not fund the high-priority projects.
Kwan explained that the maintenance program includes video inspection, cleaning, and repairs done on a routine basis to address issues before they become significant. He said that it is a critical component of storm water system services because it could extend the life of and stabilize the storm drain system before high-priority incidents occur. The initial budget has been divided in half. The director said it will still include the video inspection of the drains and cleanup, but cannot address the same amount of spot repairs.
The clean water requirements are a national unfunded mandate. There again, Kwan proposed to allocate 50 percent of the budget he was hoping for and only focus on next year's mandated milestones such as the Green Infrastructure Plan and providing additional technical support to complete implementation of the Trash Capture Project and Cleanwater GIS Project. The proposed budget does not include funding for future Cleanwater infrastructure needs.
Kwan and his team are looking at grant options to address the high-priority projects that will not be addressed under this reduced plan, such as the Laguna Creek restoration project at the Hacienda de las Flores, which would daylight a portion of a culvert that was identified by the 2015 study as a high-priority repair project. The public works department has received a first grant for $400,000 to restore the creek modestly and is expecting a second grant for $500,000 to enhance it. The allocation of the second grant will not be decided until 2019.
The town council will review the budget and the storm drain plan in June.

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