Lumos Storm Chasers to Hit Lake Tahoe

Lumos & Associates has been preparing Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs), which are required for construction sites larger than one acre, in Nevada and California for over a decade. Typically, these SWPPPs involve providing standard Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control erosion, contain runoff on site where possible, prevent tracking of sediments and pollutants off site by vehicles, and treat runoff that discharges off site to the greatest extent practicable.

There are many other elements that can go into these plans and documents. A construction site is a dynamic environment, and to account for this we prepare documents that identify general types of pollution problems that could occur on site; we label obvious potential discharge points; we design standard BMPs for the site perimeter and obvious problem areas; and we provide a BMP “tool kit” that provides dozens standard and some specialized BMPs that can be applied to any circumstance that may occur on site. The documents are flexible so that the Contractor can adjust the SWPPP to address changing site and runoff conditions.

In California, the game changed in 2009. The California Department of Water Resources wrote a new permit for construction site storm water discharges that required monitoring of storm water discharges and imposed limits on the turbidity and Ph level of any storm water discharge. In the Lake Tahoe Basin, additional limits are placed on Nitrogen and Phosphorous as well. If these limits are exceeded, fines can be imposed up to $10,000 per violation. The 2009 permit also places additional procedural requirements for SWPPP implementation, some of which are daily inspections of construction site BMPs, immediate electronic reporting requirements to the State Water Quality Control Board, and most importantly, SWPPPs must be developed by a certified Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSD), and on site monitoring of storm water discharge during storm events must be conducted by a certified Qualified SWPPP Practitioners (QSPs). In response to these requirements, Lumos now has certified QSD/QSP personnel and water quality monitoring equipment.

Given the complexity of the 2009 permit and the amount of responsibility placed on the QSD/QSP, contractors and some public agencies are now choosing to hire subconsultants to perform these duties. Lumos recently secured two large contracts with GC Environmental Consultants to provide QSD and QSP services on two Southwest Gas pipeline replacements.

The first gas line replacement is on Highway 89 between Tahoma and Tahoe Pines on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Lumos prepared the plans for the SWPPP that protects almost 4 miles of gas main replacement with frequent lateral replacements and patch paving. The replacement crosses three major streams, and approximately ¾ of a mile of the replacement occurs within TRPA designated Stream Environment Zone (SEZ). Another portion of the replacement contends with steep cross-slopes, which require additional effort to protect.

The second gas line project is in Truckee, California along Joeger Rd. For this project, Lumos developed a SWPPP that protects more than 2 miles of gas main replacement with moderately frequent lateral replacements.

Lumos will also be the QSP for one other commercial site in South Lake Tahoe and we will be conducting Nevada SWPPP inspection and testing for Phase 1 of the Nevada Stateline to Stateline Bikeway South Demonstration Project.

To cover our responsibilities on these projects, the Tahoe office will be making daily inspections of all of these project sites to ensure SWPPP compliance, we will monitor weather forecasts on a daily basis, and when the rain comes, we will be on site to monitor any discharge of storm water. Following any rain event we will upload our monitoring data to the California Department of Water Resources website to ensure compliance. It’s not quite like chasing tornados, testing for avalanches, or flying into the eye the hurricane, but when the rain event occurs we’ll be out looking at puddles.

Eureka Main Street Water & Sewer Project

Lumos & Associates Inc, in 2003, secured a Community Development Block Grant to prepare a Preliminary Engineering Report for the entire length of the Town of Eureka’s Main Street, better known as U.S. Highway 50. The focus of the PER was to study the County’s need to replace its water and sewer mains. Results of the PER, determined the cost and scope to replace 2,850 feet of water main and 2,300 feet of sewer main along with appurtenances, including water services, sewer laterals, fire hydrants, etc. Immediately after completion of the PER and before funding could be secured, NDOT repaved  Main Street thus postponing the project for a minimum of 5 years as a results of NDOT’s no cut policy.

Fast forward to 2005, where Lumos & Associates was awarded the contract to prepare 50% improvement plans for the project. Eureka County requested an increase in the amount of water and sewer mains to be replaced to 6,100 feet of water main and 4,100 feet of sewer main. This included replacing every cross street water and sewer main for one block either side of Main Street.

In February 2009 Lumos was authorized to develop 100% plans. Eureka County again expanded the project to add or replace all lines and appurtenances within the parallel streets on both the east and west sides of Main Street, which is nearly the entire length of town! Lumos’ engineering team led by Cecilia Hamilton, P.E. bravely took on the challenge to modify the plans and have the project permitted and ready for bid by February of 2010. The final project, at the time of bid opening was 9,900 feet of water main and 4,750 feet of sewer main with a total estimated construction cost of $5,873,000. Bids were opened on March 19, 2010 and the lowest responsive bid was $3,936,007 or 33 percent below the engineers estimate.

Adding to the project challenges, Lumos identified 26 separate phases of construction that the contractor had to follow to minimize community impacts and allow certain facilities to be in place prior to starting work in more critical areas. Additionally Lumos specified extensive dewatering, trench stabilization, and sewer by-pass requirements to mitigate the expected high groundwater and requirements for the sewer system to be “live” throughout construction. Because of the favorable bid prices, Eureka County decided to expand the project scope to include additional water and sewer footage.

An additional unanticipated project challenge was permitting with NDOT. The Town of Eureka was formed when silver was discovered in 1869 and the town quickly grew to a population of over 7,000 people. However, legal title to the land, including the roads, was “murky”, complex, and slow to be resolved. To complete NDOT’s permitting process an additional utility easement was required over one mining patent. Lumos quickly established the needed easement exhibits utilizing survey documentation previously obtained from other County projects, and Ron Damele, Eureka County Director of Public Works, negotiated a utility easement within the span of one week.

Lumos provided planning, design, plans, specifications, permitting through the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) and the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), bidding assistance, consultant coordination, construction management, including inspection, material testing, review of contractor submittals, change order proposals and pay requests, and responses to requests for information on this project. The completed project involved over 15,700 LF of waterline and 14,900 LF of sewer main, 31 fire hydrants, 61 sewer manholes, and 1,500 LF sewer laterals.