26 August 2014

Problems With Omaha CSO! Project at Spring Lake Park

Email details indicated problems associated with the CSO! project at Spring Lake Park including the presence of mud in the spring-associated wetlands north of F Street and disposal of the slurry from washing out cement trucks, where two primary concerns indicated.

According to other emails, project supervisors indicated on Friday that the cement slurry had been removed, and that there was no mud in the wetland in the hollow north of F. Street.

The following are definite problems noted during an evaluation visit on the morning of Saturday, August 23. These conditions were indicated in Saturday email to Janet Bonet, president of the Spring Lake Neighborhood Association, and an environmental inspector for Public Works.

1) Mud washed into west end of hollow from the park entryway there up on the slope

2) Concrete washout disposal on the south side of the hollow at its west end; the length of a plume more than 40 feet in length indicates dumping occurred there multiple times. When will this be removed? Any indication that the concrete washout material has been removed is simply in error, as documented by photographs of this plume on the 23rd.

3) Fresh mud in the west end of the designated wetland area

4) A need to reset stakes and tape to readily mark protected ground, as the tape is not now adequate and some of the stakes are falling over

5) Mud in the wetland at the east end, west of the huge berm at the stormwater drain. Its occurrence is readily obvious by it being associated with marked tape and stakes indicating the wetland.

6) Sewer blocker barriers not adequately kept in primary condition; the one on the south side of F street has a 4-6 inch gap

7) Excessive pile of mud and rock on F Street which is about ready to overflow and then cause potential problems

8) South side of F Street near park entrance, the fence is not adequately maintained

[End of email items.]

9) A hole along the curb on the south side of F Street, near the park entrance.

After having asked the Corp of Engineers to look into the mud in the wetland area, they were also sent a photo of mud in the indicated wetland. This mud is illegal fill and a violation of the Section 404 permit. They have been asked to look into the situation and take appropriate action.

There has been no response to me by Public Works officials, despite having sent several communications via email and phone to Robert Stubbe, department director, James Theiler, CSO program coordinator, and Andy Szatko, city environmental inspector.

This information has also been indicated to the Nebraska Environmental Trust, with the comment that "This is not how a project is done in an environmentally sensitive area such as Spring Lake Park. Any further funding to Omaha Public Works should be withheld until there is an assurance that these problems have been adequately addressed and there is a valid assurance that the[se] sorts of things will not happen again."

The City of Omaha and its hired contractors have really violated the public trust with the CSO! Project at Spring Lake Park, by allowing these conditions to occur and remain in this unique park. Their communication has also been misleading or completely lacking, in some regards.

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