Scoping meeting addresses additional neighborhood topics

Residents attending a recent public meeting at the Rinconada plant posed questions to the project team related to traffic, safety and seismic readiness, topics they believe are of broad importance to their neighbors as the water district looks ahead to its reconstruction of the facility.

Among them: Whether the current noise levels associated with idling of trucks on More Avenue during routine morning deliveries would change with the completion of plant improvements, the impact of the nearby Quito Road Bridge replacement project by the city of Saratoga and the potential safety issues associated with the chemicals the district plans to use at the treatment plant.

District boardmember Nai Hsueh, the project team and its consultant, CDM Smith, helped provide answers during the Jan. 15 meeting, held as a requirement under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Environmental Scoping meeting ensures informed decision making and full public disclosure and helps prevent significant environmental damage. The draft Environmental Impact Report will be available for public review at the water district headquarters later this summer. You can still communicate your feedback in writing to the water district in care of Project Manager Mike Munson at 5750 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, Ca. 95118.

Traffic

Attendees said the neighborhood currently deals with certain contractor trucks impeding traffic as they enter the gate to the San Jose Water Company’s More Avenue reservoirs, where the water company is replacing the reservoir roofs.

The roof replacement project won’t coincide with those of the district and city of Saratoga because the water company will likely finish its work this Spring, Munson said. The city will likely begin its work on the Quito Road bridges while the district is already into the second year of its project, said the district’s consultant, Phillippe Daniel of CDM Smith, adding that traffic impacts from the Reliability Improvement work on More Avenue would be much smaller compared to the bridge replacement detour, which is using Fruitvale Avenue as the primary detour.

Noting that the Quito detour work will overlap Rinconada’s second and early third phases of construction, the district will continue to look at ways to minimize traffic impacts.

“We want to be very vigilant about safety in terms of the neighbors and schools and the workers here on site,” Daniel said.

Ozone and flouridation

The new facility will incorporate ozone and flouride to its water treatment process and the project team reinforced its commitment to safety regarding the storage of chemicals by citing adherence to local and state fire codes as neighbors asked whether leaks could lead to neighborhood evacuations or shelter-in-place.

“We have so many safety measures to prevent that, including containment facilities and leak detecting analyzers that automatically shuts equipment down that it’s unlikely there would be any problem,” Rinconada Plant Supervisor Steve Twitchell said.

Seismic concerns

The last major seismic event in the area was the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that damaged some of the arms of Rinconada’s clarifiers and the water district wants to be better prepared when the next big one hits. The team has conducted months of investigations about the seismic stability of the Rinconada plant to make sure they have the best design possible.

“We’ve done a lot of work because we understand we live in an earthquake zone,” said Munson. “The building codes and structural requirements to build the kinds of facilities we have are very stringent. We’re going to build a very substantial plant that we expect will stand up very well in an earthquake.”

* Click here to view the full agenda item on the Reliability Improvement Project presented to the board of directors at its Jan. 14 meeting.

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