Retreating from 'all' to 'most' - Elk Grove city manager, development manager admit flooding failures

This image captured by Elk Grove Police show the drainage failure that caused flooding
on Bond Road and the Quail Ranch subdivision on Sunday, October 24. | 

During tonight's Elk Grove City Council meeting, city officials acknowledged their failures in dealing with the flooding affecting Elk Grove. The comments by City Manager Jason Behrmann and Development Services Manager Darren Wilson were made during the city manager's administrative report.

On Sunday, record rainfall and failed drainage plans pushed water and mud from the Silverado Village subdivision on the northwest corner of Waterman and Bond roads to flood the adjacent Quail Ranch subdivision. Residents in that neighborhood experienced several hours of swift-flowing mud water that restricted access.

Although there was extensive landscaping damage, no structures were affected, and there were no reported injuries. 

The following day, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said on her  Facebook page "that all systems had worked as design" in an update on citywide conditions. Given the engineering failure at the Silverado Village subdivision development, Elk Grove News called the proclamation a lie that Singh-Allen found objectionable. 

During his report, Behrmann walked back the comments posted by the mayor and acknowledged that not all systems adequately performed during the rainstorm.

"Most of the city's drainage system worked as they were designed to," Behrmann said. "The sheer amount of rainfall meant most of the systems were operating at capacity. As the system continued to work, most roadways saw waters recede."

Behrmann acknowledged Quail Ranch and Bond Road flooding from the Eliot Homes Silverado Village development and that they would be fined but did not specify the amount. 

"Elliot Homes has accepted their responsibility for that incident," he said. 

Additionally, Behrmann said while public works had worked hard the last few years on flooding, he admitted the city was unprepared in their weekend response to the rainstorm.

"Nevertheless, we learned lessons from the storm that will help us be better prepared for future events," he said.

In the day leading up to the event, there was scant information conveyed about the storm to residents regarding the forecasted storm on the city's various social media platforms. Additionally, the city did not operate a short-term shelter for unsheltered people in the community.

"We are developing more robust communication plans to provide important updates for our residents in real-time," Behrmann added. 

During Berhmann's report, Wilson called the Quail Ranch flooding from Silverado Village an "overspill," and that is was unexpected. He also said a heavy October rainfall was an anomaly. 

Singh-Allen asked what reassurances he could offer residents that this failure would not repeat. Wilson did not offer specifics other than he would be willing to meet residents to reassure them.

"I'm not the project designer, but I have a good handle on how the system will work," Wilson said.

When asked by Singh-Allen how the future developments would be handled, Wilson said city staff work closely with developers. He also tacitly admitted the city staff failed to perform their duties during the Sunday storm. 

"Rain does not discriminate on what day it falls, so we need to be prepared on Saturdays and Sundays as well," Wilson noted. 

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

BSA did not pull her quote that "everything worked as designed" out of thin air--she would have been told that by a staff person. That person either lied or was telling the truth.

Ever notice how some neigborhood streets are wider than others and don't have as many storm drains? Allowing developers to undersize their storm drains and then use the streets as collection ponds has been the standard practice for years in the county and has saved developers millions in pipe and excavation costs! And don't get me started on those pits!

Those fenced-off drainage pits eat up valuable land that could have otherwise been developed, but the developers get to count them towards meeting their required open space acreage. Wanna add a few more homes to your plans? No problem, make the pits smaller and deeper!

BSA said earlier this week that the streets serve as the "last line of defense" for flooding, but developers have made sure that last line saves their bottom line. Elliot Homes will face a fine, but no problem...they will just take that out of their campaign contribution fund!

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