The nonexistent storm drains on Spinnaker Way

(1) Standing water on north side of Spinnaker Way, opposite Hotel
This is where the “concrete-lined ditch” is supposed to be
This puddle on the south side is not draining anywhere
Flooded entrance to the boat yard near the west edge of the site

Statement submitted to the Parks and Waterfront Commission March 9, 2016:

After every serious downpour, Spinnaker Way gets flooded, with major pools of standing water both north and south; see photos above.  The area on both sides of Spinnaker Way is a former landfill.  The Regional Water Control Board (RWQCB)  issues a license to the City for post-closure operation and maintenance of the landfill.  A primary concern of the license is to control and minimize leachate.  Leachate is moisture coming from above that penetrates into the stored refuse, percolates through it, and gathers at the bottom, generally contaminated with toxic compounds.  To control leachate, the Water Board requires periodic monitoring of leachate wells, and performs regular inspections where it writes up, among other things, accumulations of water on the surface.  The Water Board has on several occasions required the City to drain and/or fill up park areas where standing water has accumulated.

According to a written report submitted to the Water Board by the City, there is an adequate storm drain system in place along Spinnaker Way.  On Page 3, the report says that storm water on the southern side of the park flows into

“a catch basin on Spinnaker Way. Water that overflows the catch basin sheet flows across Spinnaker Way to a concrete-lined ditch that discharges into the Bay on the west side of the site.”[1]

In actual fact, overflowing water forms a pool up to 60 feet long, 20 feet wide, and up to a foot deep on the north side of Spinnaker Way.  It does not flow across the street.

Furthermore, there is no “concrete-lined ditch” on the south (hotel) side of Spinnaker Way.  There are other major standing pools of water on the south side.  On occasion, Public Works staff have brought a gasoline-powered sump pump to partially drain some of the pools blocking access to the boat area parking lots.  There is no effective storm drain system on either side of Spinnaker Way, and the City’s report claiming that storm drainage at this former landfill is under control is very far from the mark.

Given the Water Board’s urgent concern with the leachate issue, the matter of these pools of standing water should be brought to the Water Board’s attention.  Fortunately, one of the Commissioners of this body, Mr. McGrath, is also a member of the Regional Water Board.  I call on Mr. McGrath to report the storm drain problem and the situation with large pools of standing water to the Water Board’s attention, and if possible, to obtain a ruling whether these conditions are within the parameters of the Water Board’s license for the site.

[1] Post-Closure Maintenance Plan City of Berkeley Landfill, February 21, 2011, Updated April 18, 2012, p. 3.

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