Rancho Arroyo waters came from two external sources before flood

A detention basin that flooded was receiving a copious amount of extra water from at least two sources that were previously unknown to city officials.
A flooded detention pond is pictured near Ivy Loop in Winters on Jan. 17, 2019. Photo by Matthew Keys/Winters Express
The Rancho Arroyo Detention Pond is pictured after a flood near Foxglove Circle on Jan. 17, 2019. Photo by Matthew Keys/Winters Express

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flooded out streets and caused a significant amount of property damage. At the presentation last week, city officials said they became aware of the external sources of water during additional atmospheric river events and pineapple express-type storms that followed the Jan. 16 flood, including one on Feb. 13 where members of the public works crews used sandbags and other materials to control water brought on by strong rain. “That’s water we’ve never seen before,” City Manager John Donlevy said of ponding water that was on roadways and other property near the development.” Officials made clear the responsibility to prevent incidents like the Jan. 16 flood from happening again falls on the developer, not the city. A development agreement signed between the City of Winters and developer Homes by Towne obtained by the Express says as much, though after the flood city officials said they took matters into their own hands to prevent a similar incident from happening again. “We’re horrified by what happened in that neighborhood,” Donlevy said. “We’ve run that facility for 17 years without a single issue — not a single issue — that’s ever come close to this.” Donlevy said if the city made one mistake, “that mistake was that we didn’t take matters into our own hands earlier on those days…we shouldn’t have to, but in this case, [Public Works Operations Manager Eric Lucero] and our public works team, they handled the situation, and we aren’t going to let that happen again.” City officials are now helping homeowners and renters who experienced property damage file claims with the developer. According to a contract reviewed by the Express, the developer agreed to indemnify the city of any claims they further agreed to obtain comprehensive liability insurance to cover property damage arising from development of the detention basin and other stormwater improvement projects. Two weeks ago, the City of Winters provided the Express a copy of a certificate of insurance that said Homes by Towne obtained the required liability insurance. That policy expired March 1, though a city official says the developer has since renewed their insurance policy for another two years. An executive with Homes by Towne previously declined to respond to questions from the Express about property damage claims, saying it was “premature” to comment on those matters because they involved “legal and insurance issues.” Officials say new pumps at the detention basin could further prevent a similar flood from occurring again. They were not powered during the January and February storms, but are scheduled to go online through temporary power this month.]]>

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