OCEANSIDE — An Irvine-based construction firm was awarded a contract by the Oceanside City Council on Dec. 17 to rehabilitate a lift station in San Diego County’s northernmost harbor.
Pacific Winds Building, Inc., will receive $370,600 to construct Harbor Lift Station No. 4 as part of a rehabilitation project.
Council members unanimously approved the contract award as part of its consent calendar.
Lift stations are used to pump sewage or wastewater from lower to higher elevations, particularly because gravity would prevent the sewage from flowing in such a direction. Whenever a boat owner uses a pump out station to dispose of greywater or blackwater, the waste would flow to a nearby lift station, where it is elevated and allowed to ultimately flow away from the harbor.
Oceanside Harbor was constructed in 1961. According to Oceanside staff, the harbor’s entire infrastructure was built then and has remained intact ever since. In the 53 years since, some items, such as the lift station, have begun to outlive their expected usefulness.
Lift Station No. 4 is located at 284 Harbor Drive South, just above the mouth of the San Luis Rey River, east of the Pacific Street Bridge and at the base of Oceanside Harbor.
City staff reported the current lift station, which is made of concrete, steel, pumps, motors and controls, is at the end of its useful life and subject to leaks. Several improvements would be made to the new lift station, including significant electrical additions and submersible chopper pumps. The lift station would also be located in a higher position in order to allow for safer access and easier maintenance.
Funding for the contract award comes from one of the city’s replacement accounts, which, as of Dec. 17, had a balance of $1,534,730.
Also on the Dec. 17 agenda was an item for an advance written request from Bobbi Thornton to speak to the council about mobile pump out service at Oceanside Harbor. However, Thornton was not present at the meeting to address council members. A search of revealed documents on the city’s website reveals Thornton filed a “Written Request to Speak” form Dec. 8 and was “approved by the city manager via email communications.”
Speaking to The Log separately, Thornton said she wanted to address the city council about the dumping of blackwater into the harbor.
Thornton, who operates Suck It Up Sally, a pump out station at the harbor, provided The Log with photographs of what she claims is evidence of blackwater dumping. She also claims boat owners in Oceanside Harbor have complained of possible sewage in the water.
However, Oceanside City Manager Steve Jepsen said no evidence of blackwater dumping has been presented to the city.
“The city’s position remains that we will actively pursue any specific complaint of contamination occurring in our harbor, including blackwater. We have gone to a system of placing dye tabs in holding tanks during boat inspections; over time this should help identify problems, if and when they occur,” Jepsen said. “Ms. Thornton claims to have knowledge of blackwater violators in the Oceanside Harbor, but she will not furnish the necessary information to pursue such claims. The city’s frequent testing of water quality in the harbor does not support Ms. Thornton’s claims.”
In the context of boats, the dumping of blackwater occurs whenever someone discards water composed of human waste from his or her vessel.