Community Environmental Advisory Commission discusses Measure T1, water quality

Leo Tang/Staff

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The Berkeley Community Environmental Advisory Commission, or CEAC, met Thursday to discuss updates for issues including the Measure T1 Infrastructure Bond Program and water quality.

Measure T1 authorizes the city to sell $100 million of general obligation bonds to repair, renovate, replace or reconstruct the city of Berkeley’s infrastructure and facilities, according to the city of Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront website. The program takes community input when selecting projects for the city to fix and has three phases that will take place for 12 years.

“We actually just started the process of thinking about Phase 2 of T1,” said Christina Erickson, deputy director of the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department. “The original commitment was $35 million of funding, we are now up to $41 million in projects.”

Some of the projects that were revamped when selected for Measure T1 include the citywide irrigation system and the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex. Other projects, including the North Berkeley Senior Center, are under construction and are anticipated to be completed later in 2020, according to Erickson.

The project includes the renovation of several Berkeley streets, including Adeline Street, Hearst Avenue and University Avenue. The renovation will likely be completed in spring 2020. Erickson added that the organization is “electrifying” as much as possible when renovating the buildings.

After the update, CEAC opened the discussion for public comment on issues including tide tubes and water quality, as well as a missing weir — a structure used to control a stream or river’s flow. The weir was recently discovered to be missing but could have been gone as far back as 2017 when floods occurred, according to Elaine Baden, president of the Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club.

“We have a potential major flood coming our way,” Baden said.

As a result of the missing weir, overflow from a large storm drain running under University Avenue enters the Aquatic Park, according to Scott Ferris, the city’s director of the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department. It was estimated that the high tide let in 8 inches of additional water to the park, according to Ferris.

Several times over the summer, the city found that the aquatic park contained E. coli, enterococcus and other fecal bacteria in numbers beyond what is safe for human contact.

Although many assume the water from Strawberry Creek washes some bacteria into the storm drain, Ferris said the water quality is better now than it was in the summer, and the city is testing to figure out what the problem was.

CEAC also passed four resolutions related to sustainability in terms of vehicles and will go to the Berkeley City Council for consideration.

Contact Nina Narahari at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ninanarahari_dc.