Runoff system ready for winter
Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer   
September 10, 2013 07:00 pm

The city of Brookings should be ready for almost anything Mother Nature throws its way this winter, since stormwater pipe repairs, improvements and replacements have been made all summer throughout town.

Damage to infrastructure throughout town was caused by a fierce storm that raged through the county last November, causing water pipes to fail, hillsides to slump, sinkholes to open and a sewer lift station to fall off the cliff into the ocean.

“We’re happy to say a couple of projects are significantly under budget,” said Public Works Director Loree Pryce. “The Beach Avenue lift station project came in $100,000 under budget.”

She thanked the city council for giving her department the go-ahead to act quickly in combating the problems the storm wreaked on the city.

The city ended up saving almost $155,000 on work done this summer, enabling it to pursue at three — and possibly four — more projects before the year ends.

Restoring pavement washed out by the flood in a culvert on Mill Beach Road came in $2,723 under budget, replacing a pipe where one failed in a lot near Oil Can Henry’s is expected to be $159,000 under budget, and a system-wide inspection and mapping of stormwater pipes came in $7,500 less than anticipated.

Engineers were able to craft different ideas for various situations — in many cases, saving the city additional money.

“To replace the pipe at Oil Can Henry’s isn’t just replacing a pipe,” Pryce said. “It has to tie on to the old pipe, and that gets really expensive.”

Instead, a solution involving draining water from parking lots above — notably from McDonalds — into a debris basin that is more accessible for maintenance was recommended.

Related to the Nov. 20 storm, other work underway includes the slope stabilization of the Beach Avenue lift station, expected to be completed at the end of the month; and letting residents know of their responsibilities in keeping private drains clear of debris.

Projects for which the city had not budgeted and now may pursue include culvert improvements along Memory Lane, rehabilitation of the sewer line on Fifth Street between Easy Street and Ek Drive; replacing a storm drain on Ransom Street and replacing 400 feet of pipe, new manholes and a catch basin along Ross Road.

Regular work being conducted in town includes the repaving of the entire stretch of Easy Street and repaving along Old County Road.

While city employees jumped into the fray with homeowners to help divert water and save flooding houses during the torrential downpour last November, the storm has brought city engineers’ attention the many deficiencies in the city’s system.

Television cameras snaked into pipes throughout town this summer were able to not only identify weak points in the system, but identify pipes for which there are no records on file. That often occurs as cities are built and developers install pipes and culverts on private property. City staff is busy re-creating that master plan.

Officials are also addressing the issues of cliff-side erosion — notably, if the city is responsible for paying for repairs — that destroyed six residents’ backyard decks and stairs.

Currently, the Dyer Partnership of Coos Bay is updating the city’s storm drain master plan and evaluating alternative drainage routes for that area. Rerouting storm water around Buena Vista Loop would be a “very large construction project,” Pryce said, with culvert lengths in excess of 3,000 feet.

The outfall pipes that collect water from Memory Lane and convey it to Buena Vista Loop are adequate for a 25-year storm, which is the “standard of care” in municipalities in Oregon. Inlet structures, where water flows into the drains, are being rebuilt so they’re easier to clean and less prone to collecting debris during a storm.

“The problem was partially the debris, but in large part, it was the overwhelming amount of water that was dumped into the neighborhoods,” said City Manager Gary Milliman. “There was weedy material, plywood, larger vegetation, tarps, garbage bags — one drain had a Christmas tree entangled with a tarp; that was very effective in clogging the culvert.”