Sunset Valley to withhold payment until city facility pond issues are resolved

Construction on Sunset Valley city facilities including its new police building were completed in the early summer of 2019, but problems persist with its water features. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Construction on Sunset Valley city facilities including its new police building were completed in the early summer of 2019, but problems persist with its water features. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Construction on Sunset Valley city facilities including its new police building were completed in the early summer of 2019, but problems persist with its water features. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Due to flaws in the construction of a water-quality retention pond, the city of Sunset Valley will withhold between $200,000-$250,000 in payments for the substantial completion of its city facility project until it is repaired.

Sunset Valley approved the $8.5 million city facility project to construct a public works building and a police facility at the Sunset Valley City Hall property. The pond was built as part of the project and makes up about $850,000 of total project cost.

According to Robert Scholz, a senior project manager with Halff Associates, the engineering firm that designed the pond, the feature is supposed to work as a water retention and reirrigation pond. As designed, the pond should not release water downstream and should be capable of catching more water than required by water quality standards.

However, according to a Jan. 21 City Council presentation by City Administrator Sylvia Carrillo-Trevino, the pond and an associated rain garden are not operating as designed. She said the pond’s clay liner was not correctly installed by Chasco Contractors, the business that worked on the project, and that she believes there is water leakage in other areas, preventing the pond to retain water.

“We are invested in getting this fixed,” Chasco Project Manager Tina Rutterford said. “We are invested in getting this done properly. We are going to fix it, but I don’t know how long [it will take]. It can be a needle in a haystack crack in the pond.”


Pond problems

During a test of the pond, the structure lost about one foot of water in a 30-hour period, when less than an inch of loss was expected.

“We don’t know where that water is going,” Carrillo-Trevino said, suggesting the runoff could be compromising the neighboring structures at City Hall.

Similarly, the pond seems to stabilize its water level at a shallower depth than was designed.

“We [believe] there is a certain level that it comes to that the water stays at, so we feel like under that level the clay liner is intact and working,” Rutterford said. “Somewhere above that there is an issue, and unfortunately with clay liners it is very hard to track that down.”

Additional concerns include water pumps that are broken and not operational and a large amount of algae growth in the pond. Carrillo-Trevino said she believes the algae could lead to additional pump issues in the future.

“If water levels are not reaching designed points, the system cannot operate as designed,” she said. “There are algae, which will impact pump maintenance.”

Scholz said the algae are likely present because the water pumps are not circulating water. He said he also believes the bottom of the pond is shallower than designed, which could also increase algae production.

Problems with the pond’s accompanying rain garden are due to a missing section of clay liner, which should be replaced.

Course of action

City staff proposed not releasing any additional money for the city facility project until and the pond is resolved. Although there were some disagreements between city staff and Chasco as to the best course of action, the city directed Chasco to develop a method for repair.

“We are not in a position to tell them how to fix it,” Carrillo-Trevino said. “They designed it. They contracted it. If we try to tell them how to fix it, we take on some of that liability.”

Rutterford said the plan of action is to first track down where the leak is above the level that the water is staying and repair it. She also said Chasco will install the needed clay liner in the rain garden.

City Attorney Doug Young said Jan. 21 that the city “is in its rights to retain money” for work that was not done or is not done correctly.

City Council moved part of the discussion into executive session before reconvening the Jan. 21 regular council meeting. No action about the pond was taken following executive session.

Nicholas Cicale



MOST RECENT

Austin City Hall (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Some on Austin City Council want more of its $272 million coronavirus relief package to go to residents in need

City Council will determine how much to put toward direct financial assistance at its June 4 meeting.

Candidates in the Senate District 14 special election responded to Community Impact Newspaper's questions about their campaigns to fill the vacant seat in the Texas Senate. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Senate District 14 candidates discuss the issues ahead of July 14 election

There are six candidates running in the special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Kirk Watson through 2022.

Travis County judge pushes back against attorney general's reprimand of stay-at-home order

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe responded to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's warning that county coronavirus orders conflicted with the state's.

Cap Metro and its community partners have combined to delivery more than 300,000 meals to community members in need. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro, community partners deliver more than 300K meals to community

The public transportation agency is teaming up with businesses and nonprofits to provide meals for those in need.

The Austin Central Library will reopen after it was closed for more than two months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin libraries, in-person pet adoptions to begin reopening June 1

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will begin opening amenities, but there is no date set to open Barton Springs Pool.

A photo of the Travis County headquarters sign
Austin Public Health officials say they plan to increase support to Latino community, where coronavirus hospitalizations are up

As of May 26, 76 Hispanic individuals in Travis County were hospitalized with COVID-19, representing around 78% of all hospitalizations.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Travis County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
92nd coronavirus death reported in Travis County

Active hospitalizations in the metropolitan area dropped from 97 to 88 over the past 24 hours.

The Central Texas Food Bank hosted a food distribution event in South Austin May 28. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Central Texas Food Bank serves 1,071 families at South Austin distribution event

The food bank created the emergency drive-up events to reach more individuals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis County continues to urge residents to follow social distancing guidelines when out in public. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County officials: 20 new coronavirus hospitalizations per day would strain local hospital capacity

Dr. Mark Escott said new admissions per day is a key measure to determine if the county should be more or less restrictive in its guidance to residents and businesses.

A May 27 preliminary budget discussion showed Central Health expects to see a slow-down in property tax revenue growth in fiscal year 2020-21. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early budget forecasts from Central Health show anticipated 'slow-down' in tax revenue collection

Preliminary budget forecasts from Central Health show the health care district anticipates a slow down in tax revenue collection growth.

A photo of red wine being poured
Hamilton Pool Vineyard & Farms now open in Southwest Austin

The vineyard will also eventually include a farm-to-table restaurant and wedding venue.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.