Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2021  
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  Adverse Impacts of Marin County Water Line on Richmond
October 18, 2021

To preserve lush lawns like this, Marin will rip up the Bay Trail and Richmond streets for a water line across the bridge

On October 19, 2021, the Marin Municipal Water District is set to approve construction of the water line across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.  Click here for the agenda report, "Approve the Emergency Intertie Project and authorize the General Manager to (1) Execute an Agreement with the Contra Costa Water District, and (2) Carry out a Pre-Purchase of Materials for Project Construction”.

There will also be a report at the October 20, 2021, CCTA meeting at 6:00 PM October 20.

The good news is that MMWD plans to install the pipeline under the top deck of the RSR Bridge because it, “preserves current and future uses of the bridge, allows Caltrans to efficiently utilize inspection and other operations equipment, enjoys broad stakeholder support and very likely is the only option that could be permitted in a timely manner”.

The bad news is that the staging of materials, estimated six months of construction seven days a week, including at night time, and operation of the project will have significant adverse effects on the City of Richmond and its residents in many ways. Residents and businesses of Point Richmond would be subjected to the noise and air pollution associated with a high pressure pump station and diesel generators near Castro Street and Tewksbury Avenue with three or four above-ground, skid-mounted pumps moving 12.5 million gallons/day plus a diesel emergency generator set (about 50’ x 15’).

The severe staging and construction impacts include:

  1. Closure of San Francisco Bay Trail between Castro Street and Stenmark Drive preventing bicyclists and pedestrians from reaching the RSR Bridge Trail, Point Molate Beach Park, Point Molate, Point San Pablo Harbor and the Black Pirate Barbecue restaurant.
  1. Closure of the RSR Bridge Trail.
  1. Interference with construction of the Point Molate Bay Trail between the RSR Bridge and Point Molate Beach Park by EBRPD.
  1. Traffic congestion, visual and noise impacts from building the pump station in the vicinity of Castro Street and Tewksbury Avenue.
  1. Increased traffic congestion on the bridge.
  1. Installing or replacing approximately 1,400 feet of 6-inch pipelines in EBMUD’s distribution system in the Point Richmond neighborhood, including pipeline segments in Clarence Street, Contra Costa Street, Western Avenue, Eddy Street, West Richmond Avenue, and Marine Street
  1. Staging of construction materials and equipment at the site of the Richmond Pump Station and a potential third staging area near the east end of the RSR Bridge.

Details may be found in the Proposed Actions, Facilities and Operations section of the CEQA Notice of Exemption included with the referenced MMWD Board agenda report.

Visual, traffic, noise, air pollution and other major adverse impacts on the City of Richmond and its residents are being ignored, as are alternatives and mitigation measures, in the rush to proceed and adoption of an “emergency” statutory exemption under CEQA. Richmond is expected to suffer the consequences of poor planning and lack of water conservation by the 14th richest county in America.

The Richmond Pump Station should not be placed in the residential & commercial district vicinity of Castro & Tewksbury. Rather, it and the associated generator set and piping should be installed in the industrial area on the other side of I-580 with the pipeline running along or under Chevron Way between Castro and Marine Streets on Caltrans and/or City of Richmond property. From Marine St., the pipeline could be attached to the soffit of the Scofield Avenue freeway bridge structure and westward outboard to the Bay Trail, rather than buried in it. This would eliminate most of the adverse construction and operational impacts on Richmond residents and businesses, while maintaining bicycle and pedestrian access to Point Molate and the Point San Pablo Harbor.

This project is essentially being imposed on Richmond without providing the typical protections of CEQA.

We do however, have some opportunities to be heard:

  • The project requires an encroachment permit from the City of Richmond. We need to make sure that there is a public process for this permit and that it is subject to City Council approval. Recent practice has been to approve such permits administratively, and this has to stop.
  • The project requires a BCDC permit, and there are opportunities to request modifications and conditions of approval. BCDC recently adopted Environmental Justice and Social Equity permitting requirements that should be applicable when imposing the brunt of the project’s adverse impacts on a City with a diverse and underserved population of color.

Furthermore, there is the possibility that MMWD could take water from EBMUD’s existing 12-inch main at the Stenmark Drive exit from I-580 and avoid the need to install a new pipeline from Castro Street with a pump station in the Point Richmond residential and commercial district. Director Lesa McIntosh has been notified of this and asked to have EBMUD and MMWD explore it.