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[whitespace] Solution is finally on the way for a problem sewer pipe

Negotiations with land owner went on for four years

Willow Glen--After about four years, city officials say residents in western Willow Glen can expect an end to the smelly reminder, after a new sanitary pump station and force main is completed next April.

A Willow Street siphon that moves sewage from nearby residences to the water pollution control center, through a pipe under the Guadalupe River, collapsed in 1997. The city immediately added a cross tie to allow liquid sewage to drain to Prevost Street, but city crews have had to pump out solid waste every week since then.

Barbara Keegan, public works division manager, said city staff has tried to proceed with plans to resolve the situation, by building a new pump station at the intersection of Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue near the Willow Street bridge.

"Obviously, you don't want an ongoing maintenance issue like this," Keegan said. "It's been an ongoing odor problem for residents, enough to be annoying."

But the prospective site for the station was owned by a billboard company, Outdoor Systems that had new owners who didn't want to move its billboard to accommodate a sewer easement, Keegan said. The other option of building a new siphon under the river was less attractive to city officials--it was more expensive than the station and would need to be replaced again in about five years after the Santa Clara Valley Water District built an adjacent river channel.

Finally, last August, city staff were able to negotiate an easement arrangement that satisfied Outdoor Systems, and began work on the design for the subterranean station. They also secured necessary permits from the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the state Department of Fish and Game, Keegan said.

"We've been fast tracking to get the project awarded as early as possible," added Keegan.

The city council approved a contract with Reggie Hughey Excavating Inc. on May 8, for $284,915 to build the station. The entire project is expected to cost about $560,000, according to council documents, with $45,500 used for property acquisition.

Keegan said staff is urging the contractor to begin work in July. The Department of Fish and Game requires that work in creek and river beds be done only between April 15 and Oct. 15, she said. Work on the control center and pavement could be done during the winter months, she said, but the project will likely not be completed until next April.

The station will include a pump to move waste through 140 feet of 4-inch pipe, or force main that will be attached to the Willow Street Bridge, Keegan said. The site will be landscaped and the surrounding curb, gutter, sidewalk and pavement will be replaced, she said.

District 6 Councilman Ken Yeager said his office has been encouraging city staff to complete the project soon.

Keegan said the project won't contribute to noise or odor in the neighborhood, and should resolve the problems that exist now. "You don't want to wait as long as this project had to wait," she said.
Kate Carter

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