The St. Helena City Council awarded a $3.2 million contact this week to an Arcata firm to remove the Upper York Creek Dam.
McCullough Construction will be charged with notching the dam, restoring the creek’s aquatic habitat, and removing an illegal barrier to fish passage that the city first agreed to remove in 2006.
Work is scheduled to begin next week and finish by the end of October.
“This is a legacy, longtime project, and having it at this point is wonderful and remarkable,” said Mayor Geoff Ellsworth.
McCullough’s was the lowest of six bids ranging from $3.3 million to $4.4 million. The total construction cost, with contingency, management and inspection costs, is estimated at $4.6 million.
The city will pay for the project with water bonds, grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Proposition 84, and $1.6 million that a previous City Council transferred from the General Fund.
Workers will open a 20-foot notch in the dam and haul approximately 9,500 cubic yards of dam material and 12,000 cubic yards of sediment trapped behind the dam to Clover Flat Landfill.
The contractor plans 12 to 16 truck trips per hour (6-8 in each direction) during construction hours.
The city has been paying a $70 per day fine, or $25,550 per year, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for every day the dam has remained in place since November 2012.
A representative of Water Audit, an environmental advocacy group that once threatened to sue the city for failing to remove the dam, praised the city for designing a “beautiful” project that can be a model for the rest of the county.
The project will restore access to “prime spawning grounds for salmonids,” said William McKinnon, general counsel for Water Audit.
“What you folks are doing here is a very small dam removal on a very small creek,” McKinnon said. “But it is going to change the fish population in the Napa River dramatically.”
Water Audit will film the project for a documentary.
You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.