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A view of the Portola High School baseball fields. Photo by Kim Wilmer

PUSD, City of Portola coordinate PHS ball fields repair costs from 2019 water tank overflow

By Roni Java

Special to Feather Publishing

The Plumas Unified School District (PUSD) school board recently approved three construction change orders for work performed by Joy Engineering at Portola Junior-Senior High School (PJSHS) under local Measure B bond monies.

Board trustees met April 20 by videoconference and voted 5-0 on all three change order requests.

Two of the items were for $7,570 and $5,858 to cover repairs after a Portola City water leak impacted the district’s baseball and softball fields improvement project.

The expenditures were necessary to address flooding problems dating back to September 2019.

City water tank overflowed

According to PUSD, the flood damage came about after a water tank above the PJSHS fields, to the south, overflowed on Sept. 1 and ran down onto the baseball field. District staff and contractors contacted the City of Portola to have the water tank shut off. They were advised the city was working on it and would get it shut off as soon as possible.

At the time, PUSD’s team was in the process of installing a storm drain system and had open ditches on the site that were already at the design grade. Contractors reported that a portion of the pipe had already been installed.

When the water tank overflowed, this district explained, water filled the ditches and newly installed pipes with sediment. The water also eroded a ditch down through a footing for one of the rockery walls, causing additional excavation and backfill.

Unfortunately, the tank overflowed again on Sept. 4, resulting in the same amount of cleanup and the school district began the process of negotiating for compensation from the City of Portola. The claims are pending with the city’s insurance carrier and those conversations are going well, per district staff.

Plugged storm drains, too

Again in 2019, before the month was out, the work plan on the ball fields encountered a different challenge.

By Sept. 18-19, two drain inlets were discovered during the grading operations that were not shown on the plans. These drain inlets were filled with sediment and would not function with the new design of the storm drain system.

The new system tied into these drain inlets, PUSD noted, and would require cleaning in order to function properly.

According to the construction team on the project, the existing storm drain system at the site was completely plugged in several locations before the water leak occurred. The overflow from the tank was a separate and independent issue, the district explained, and the plugging of the storm drain system was not caused by the tank overflow.

Ongoing work at the ball fields

Currently, “the work related to the flooding has been completed,” said PUSD Superintendent Terry Oestreich. “Now there is work to be done with the City of Portola.”

Other improvements continue at the site. Work is also in progress on the dugouts and scoreboards will go up, which requires working with the Department of the State Architect.

Rock wall work removed from bid

The third Measure B change order approved by the board involved a request to remove rock wall work from a Portola High bid previously approved for Joy Engineering. The deduction adjustment subtracted $126,750 from the bid.




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