Despite years of delays residents of the Feather River Canyon hamlet of Tobin can finally get a source of water.
“A long series of delays ensued because the engineering department of Union Pacific Railroad did not accept the portion of the fireline pipeline plans calling for a 4-inch waterline crossing the railroad bridge at Tobin,” explained Roger Diefendorf, Plumas County Community Development Commission (PCCDC) executive director.
Diefendorf was before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 22, requesting $82,700 from the county’s general fund to solve the ongoing problem. “We don’t have any choice at this point,” said Supervisor Lori Simpson about the decision.
Chairperson of the Board of Supervisors and newly appointed chair of the Community Development Commission Michael Sanchez said that Supervisor Jeff Engel spent a lot of time at the Tobin bridge site.
Following Diefendorf’s presentation, supervisors voted unanimously to provide the funding requested for the water project completion. Supervisor Kevin Goss was absent. Goss is the newly appointed vice chairperson of both boards.
It was in 2008 that residents of Tobin originally saw a series of wildfires that destroyed the water pipeline that served the community.
Four years later, in 2012, PCCDC received a Community Development Block Grant with funding to give residents back their water. That funding was approved by the state that same year, Diefendorf explained.
But then there were more delays. Just last fall Supervisors and PCCDC attempted to get Union Pacific engineers to sign off on running the pipeline along their bridge. It seemed like a doable project, but then UP’s engineers declined to approve it.
Stantec, a fire pipeline-engineering firm, used for other projects by the Plumas County Public Works Department, came up with a new proposal. They determined that an existing 2-inch pipeline could go under the Tobin railroad bridge. It’s believed this will be sufficient to fill a 60,000-gallon water tank that’s on the Tobin side of the railroad bridge, Diefendorf explained. “Stantec also opined that the existing 2-inch pipeline was intact and could be connected to the new fire pipeline to be built,” he said.
With that UP finally approved the pipeline connection, crossing and issued the permits.
Going out to bid, Diefendorf said that T&S Construction of Sacramento was the low bid on the project. With supervisors’ permission, PCCDC entered into a contract with T&S Construction of Sacramento in late 2016.
More delays followed. Severe winter storms in 2017 hit the Feather River Canyon and other parts of Plumas County this time. The contractor completed the project early that summer but when the 2-inch pipe was tested by T&S, breaks were discovered.
According to Diefendorf, the contract with the Sacramento-based firm only included hooking up the new pipeline to existing line. All funding, including an additional $200,000 in county funds from repayments on previous CDBG sewer loans, were spent on construction.
Diefendorf told supervisors that it was just a little piece of the earlier project that wasn’t completed by the company. “We’re up a creek, so to speak,” he said.
After more delays UP engineers and those at Stantec have finally come to an agreement. This time the existing 2-inch line will be replaced with a metal line of the same size. T&S Construction is willing to return and replace the line as an amendment to the existing contract, Diefendorf explained.
This change would be in the form of a change order and the company submitted a price of $92,620 with assurances the price is firm. “The bridge pipeline replacement presents unique problems because the contractor is only allowed three hours of track time each day and so cannot work a full day on the project,” Diefendorf explained to the board.
The project also requires flagging on Highway 70 because traffic will need to stop during the time the construction company is working over the highway.
The Feather River Canyon Community Service District representative Jeff Wilson said that they could contribute $10,000, bringing down the request slightly.
Before the Jan. 22 meeting, the $250,000 general fund has had two requests approved for additional money. One request was for $7,900 for a desk and office repairs to the Planning Department director’s office. It was flooded last year when the sewer backed up.
As manager of the Plumas County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Bob Perreault was approved of up to $100,000 to keep the district in good standing on its bills.
Between those two requests, the general fund could drop to $142,100.
Perreault isn’t sure that his program will need the entire $100,000, but if it does that leaves the county without much to draw upon.
With Diefendorf’s request for the final phase of the Tobin project, the general fund drops to $59,400. That fund is intended to see the county through to the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year that ends June 30.