Hi-Desert Chooses Carollo Engineers To Manage YV Wastewater System Construction

YUCCA VALLEY—(March 1) The Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors has chosen Riverside-based Carollo Engineers to manage the construction of Yucca Valley’s wastewater collection system and treatment facility.
The community of Yucca Valley is under a mandate by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board to complete, or have made substantial progress toward completion of, the first phase of the town’s sewer system in less than 14-and-one-half months.
The water district board made a commitment to the arrangement with Corollo, which will pay the firm $2.8 million over the next three-and-a-half, despite there not yet being in place an assessment district or other set means of financing the undertaking.
In 2007, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state agency responsible for protecting water quality, adopted a resolution identifying the town of Yucca Valley as one of 66 communities throughout the state with groundwater threatened by the continuing overuse of septic systems. Lacking the financial wherewithal to undertake the construction of a sewer system, local officials resisted taking immediate action. Nor did the city have the will to impose any kind of building or development moratorium that would stabilize the problem. Town and water district officials delayed the imposition of state mandates by forging a memorandum of agreement with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to allow interim permits for new septic systems while planning for a wastewater system proceeded. .
By 2010, Yucca Valley’s population had zoomed to 20,700, an increase of 3,835 or 22.7 percent over the 16,865 town residents counted in the 2000 Census, and the following year the town was firmly informed it had only five years to take a definitive step toward water quality compliance.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board at that point imposed three progressive phases of septic discharge prohibitions on Yucca Valley. Under the state mandate, phase 1 of a waste water system must be completed or significantly on its way to completion by May 19, 2016 or enforcement action will be initiated. The first phase of the project is to cover the downtown area of Yucca Valley, the area most proximate to the heart of the groundwater basin. Similarly, phase 2 must be completed or nearly completed by May 19, 2019 and phase 3 must be completed by May 19, 2022. The last two phases lie further out where future concentrated development is most likely to occur.
The imposition of that deadline four years ago was intended as a wake-up call to local officials to undertake an effort to avert the growing water quality crisis. But little progress toward the goal of planning and funding the system has been made and there has been absolutely no physical progress with regard to establishing it.
In 2012, the Yucca Valley Town Council tested the community’s willingness to pay for or otherwise finance the construction of system, sponsoring Measure U, a once cent sales tax initiative, the lion’s share of the proceeds from which town officials said would be devoted toward building the sewer system. The measure failed.
Cost projections have been made, with one covering the price for a contractor building the system and another sizing up the cost of having water district staff carry out the project. It will cost, according to this documentation, between $133,248,401 and $140,651,089 for the design and construction work to be performed by Atkins North America and somewhere between $111,539,901 and $117,736,562 for the district to construct the project using Atkins North America’s proposed design. The system would consist of a water treatment plant and a collection system entailing over 400,000 linear feet of pipe.
Within the last fortnight, a wastewater treatment assessment schedule has been drawn up, showing variable contributions from different landowners depending on the value of each parcel. Those total assessments would run from roughly $4,000 to $19,000.
Carollo was chosen to serve as the project manager because it has been involved in planning for the wastewater project for years, having represented the Hi-Desert Water District with companies considered as potential contractors or sub-contractors on the project.

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