County approves money for levee repairs

County rushes repairs to beat winter storms

LEVEE BREACH Winter rains brought excessive flooding to Lovers Lane in Hollister when the levee system failed.

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors this week approved $275,000 in additional funding for repairs to the Pacheco Creek levee system, damaged during last winter’s storms.

The allocation at a special Tuesday meeting followed previous board action in October that dedicated $350,000 of general fund money toward the repairs. Tuesday’s allocation puts the total money allocated to the project at $625,000.

Resource Management Agency Director John Guertin informed supervisors on Tuesday that county staff received three bids ranging from $511,000 to $650,000 to conduct the work. Don Chapin Company, a Salinas-based general engineering construction company, was selected as the lowest bidder at $511,214.

“We’d also need extra funding for contingencies and a geotech survey to go out there before they do the work to make sure the soil is stable,” Guertin said.

Board Chairman Jaime De La Cruz asked Guertin if he felt a total of $625,000 would mitigate the problems out at the levee.

“Based on what I know today, yes,” Guertin said. “In the construction world things change. This is an active streambed and we’re expecting rain tomorrow. The environment can change before we can get out there and do additional work. There are things beyond our control, but we’ll try to mitigate those as much as possible.”

Storms last January and February damaged the Pacheco Creek levee system, which runs across numerous private properties. Lovers Lane flooded, as well as parts of Shore Road and San Felipe Road.

San Benito County inspection teams discovered a 104-foot long breach in the Pacheco Creek levee on Dara Farms’ property on Jan.12. Another significant, 80-foot breach occurred elsewhere in the levee system during a subsequent storm. Those breaches remain unrepaired.

“We knew what we were getting into when we made the commitment to go ahead and fund these projects,” Supervisor Robert Rivas said. “Certainly the dollar amount is concerning, but at the same time we made the commitment to see this project through. We have to honor those commitments.”

Supervisor Mark Medina asked for a definite start date, which Guertin was unable to provide.

“We probably don’t want to put a definite date to it,” Guertin said. “We’re looking at about 10 days from today at the earliest.”

Medina asked for haste.

“We can ask them to speed it up and be out there as soon as possible?” Medina asked.

“We’ll get them out there as quickly as possible,” Guertin said.

The additional funds were approved unanimously, with Supervisor Anthony Botelho absent.

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