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Study finds St. Helena needs $51.7 million to maintain underground utilities

Study finds St. Helena needs $51.7 million to maintain underground utilities

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A master plan has identified $51.7 million in mostly unfunded water, wastewater and storm drain projects in St. Helena over the next 20 years.

Not all of the projects need to be done right away, but $22.5 million worth of them have been prioritized as Phase I, according to the Integrated Master Utility Plan posted on the city’s website.

The cost and scale of the projects is beyond what ratepayers can absorb, so a staff report recommends considering other funding strategies like grants, state and federal appropriations, and public/private partnerships.

The City Council will discuss the master plan at a special meeting via Zoom at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 30.

The plan is the result of two years of work under a $383,605 contract the city signed with Carollo Engineers, Inc. in August 2018.

Consultants evaluated the performance of St. Helena’s water, wastewater and storm drain systems, identified deficiencies, projected future demands on the systems, estimated the cost of necessary improvements, and prioritized the projects.

The plan identified $21.3 million in water projects ($13.6 million in Phase 1), $11.2 million in wastewater projects ($5 million in Phase I), and $19.2 million in storm drain projects ($3.9 million in Phase I).

Unlike the water and wastewater systems, which are supported by ratepayers, the storm drains are funded only by storm drain impact fees. Maintaining the storm drains, where tests have shown areas of flooding throughout the system, might require a substantial investment from the General Fund.

Only two of the 61 projects are already on the city’s current Capital Improvement Plan.

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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