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Fountain Valley storm drain system to get $14-million upgrade

Deteriorating piping from an aging Fountain Valley pump station is pictured before it was replaced last year. City staff believes the Walnut Pump Station, which is scheduled to be overhauled, is in similar condition.
(Courtesy of city of Fountain Valley)

After 20 years of on and off planning, a major upgrade to Fountain Valley’s aging storm drain infrastructure has another green light.

For an estimated $14 million, the Walnut Pump Station will get new pumps, engines, housing and debris screening to replace worn, obsolete components that the city said could fail during heavy extended rain and lead to flooding on the city’s southwest side. The station gets its name from being located along Walnut Street near Ellis Avenue and Magnolia Street.

The overhaul also includes significant work at the 5-million-gallon reservoir nearby.

Work will begin this month and is expected to be done by 2020.


The city has been trying to improve the Walnut Pump Station since 1998 but has suspended efforts several times because of financial constraints. The facility, built in 1964, was last upgraded in 1979 and is operating on its original pumps.

Last year, when the city overhauled another 1960s-era pump station on the north side of town, brittle old piping crumbled in workers’ hands, Public Works Director Mark Lewis told the City Council last week before it voted unanimously to reignite the Walnut Pump Station project.

It’s safe to assume the Walnut components are in similarly poor condition, Lewis said, and city staff can no longer find replacement parts for the engines.

“Our crews have been amazing at using bubble gum and dental floss and all that to keep it going,” he said.


The facility also will need a stainless-steel trash rack, which keeps large debris often found in storm water from reaching the interior workings. The existing screen is made of wood.

The above-ground reservoir at Cordata Park, across the street from the pump station, will get upgraded pumps, engines and a control system. The engines no longer comply with state seismic, structural and environmental standards.

Contracts for the upgrades break down to about $12.8 million to Ontario-based Pascal & Ludwig for construction, $617,000 to Tustin-based Butier Engineering for construction management, $157,000 to Fountain Valley-based Richard Brady & Associates and $160,000 to Irvine-based AKM Consulting Engineers for construction engineering support, and about $639,000 for contingencies.

City staff had estimated the project would cost $10 million. Lewis attributed the higher bids to a competitive regional construction market as contractors tackle major water infrastructure projects and the widening of the 405 Freeway.

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