At its meeting Sept. 24, the Nevada City Council approved a contract for Milam Concrete to repair a stormwater intake on Seventh Street in Nevada.
Council members understood exactly why this repair was needed after watching a video provided by Tim and Laurie Shinn, who live at 242 Seventh St., and who were present at the meeting.
The Shinn’s didn’t have to say a word. The video did all the talking as it followed the flow of rainwater missing the intake and running directly into the Shinn’s backyard, something that’s been happening all summer long and causing an immense amount of damage.
How much damage exactly?
“We won’t know that right away,” Shinn said, as he walked through his yard recently, showing just how powerful running water can be.
City Administrator Matt Mardesen has visited the property too. “I have been in contact with Tim on several occasions to discuss the issue and have visited the property to evaluate the water runoff personally,” Mardesen said. “Tim did have an estimate of repairs completed and presented to the city, but Nevada has since had another significant rain after that estimate. In our conversations, it was agreed that we would have to get an additional estimate to determine the total damages.”
It’s definitely been a summer season of heavy rains, which hasn’t helped, Tim agreed. But those types of rains were never a problem until this year, following work that was done on water/sewer lines along the street last year.
“After that work was done, they built the road up from what it was, maybe 8 to 10 inches,” Shinn said. With the road being higher, and the intake not being nearly big enough, the water running down the hill to the northeast of Shinn’s property was now completely missing the intake and cutting a swath of damage through his beautifully landscaped yard, especially the backyard, which is a little piece of paradise that the Shinn’s have enjoyed over the years.
The property was first just Laurie’s and she’s lived there 13 years. Tim moved in 12 years ago. And he, a retired contractor, has been the designer of a very intricate backyard that included areas of lush grass, a fire pit with minus rock, a walking path made of rock and decorative stones, a workshop that matches the fencing that surrounds the backyard, plus a beautiful cascading waterfall at the center.
“We wanted it to have that rustic feel,” he said, and the old pieces of farm machinery hanging on the fences truly gives it that. But, the summer hasn’t been kind to any of the backyard areas, including those fences. In fact, one of the biggest fixes that will be needed is the south fence of the yard, where the block foundation under the fence is now fully exposed from the force of water and the fence is bowing out as its foundation is moving.
“Water has a lot of hydraulic pressure to it, especially with these heavy rains,” Shinn said. As he looks a little bit north of where the foundation of his back fence is exposed, you can see how the dirt and rock that used to line the fence has washed away. “This (area of fencing) is by far the worst. This used to be level, and now has a channel running through it,” he commented.
The fence has been up, Shinn said, for at least eight to nine years. That’s when they really started working on the backyard, bringing in dirt to build up the lower part of the backyard and reseeding it with grass.
He did it all because “I just like being outside,” he said.
The lower part of the yard, before they worked on it, was like a swamp. So to correct that, they not only built up the backyard by 4 feet, they also worked to get an outlet moved so the water no longer pooled in the yard. It all worked beautifully until the street work happened last year.
In addition to the lower south fence issue, there are other issues in the yard. Rocks have been washed away from the stone path, areas of the upper yard that used to be all grassy areas are now dirt and mud, mulch has been washed away, dirt has been washed into the ponding area of their waterfall and water has damaged the shed, not only coming up the walls inside the shed a little ways, but also pushing out dirt underneath the shed that has served as part of the building’s foundation.
Shinn said he and his wife knew they were going to have major problems after the first heavy rain came this year. “Then they (rains) just kept coming,” he said.
With city officials seeing the problem firsthand, they’ve had no argument about what was happening on the Shinn property this year, nor did they argue that they needed to fix the situation with the storm intake along Seventh Street. The only thing that has yet to be decided is how much the city will be willing to spend to help the Shinns repair all the damages in their yard. That will be the discussion after the work to repair the intake is completed.
“Milam Concrete … thought they would be on that project in the next couple of weeks,” Mardesen said. “Milam did give indication that the project would be completed this fall, before winter.”