Grant could be key to replacing city’s failing infrastructure

What started out as a rejection has transformed into something that could ultimately replace the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Portola City Manager Leslie Chrysler provided the council with an update on a State Revolving Fund (SRF) project for the city’s water and sewer system upgrades during the July 11 council meeting.

In 2014 the city applied for a Community Development Block Grant to improve the city’s sewer lines, but was denied. The project was revised and used to submit a technical assistance (TA) grant through Prop. 1.

According to Chrysler, the TA is administered by California State University with oversight from the State Water Resources Control Board. And it’s the former that has impacted the project’s trajectory.

Since Portola is considered a “disadvantaged community,” the CSU Disadvantaged Community Center developed a work plan and budget to address sewer issues. Since the streets would be torn up to fix the sewer, it seemed an appropriate time to address water issues as well. The state water board agreed and authorized CSU to expand its scope of work.

“Now we have this huge project and it keeps moving forward,” Chrysler said. “They work with Dan Bastian (the city’s engineer) and he’s being paid through them. We could replace all the water and sewer lines in the city. It’s huge.”

Chrysler introduced Jack Webster, representing CSU, during the meeting.

He has spearheaded the effort to develop the projects and applications for the SRF.

The council voted unanimously to submit applications for the two projects, estimated to be roughly $35 million.

Jackson said it would take about four months to prepare and submit the applications.

Chrysler described the entire opportunity as “impressive” and said it had to be the city’s priority.