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Severe flooding leads Healdsburg to declare local emergency; wastewater treatment facility overtaken by water

Healdsburg issued an emergency declaration Wednesday because of intense overnight flooding, including several feet of water overtaking the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

The declaration, delivered by City Manager David Mickaelian, allows the city to make emergency rules related to people and property. It also provides the city access to vital supplies and equipment to protect the community, according to a city statement.

“Right now, the concern is getting everything back up and running,” Mickaelian said. “The intent is this allows us resources on the ground as quickly as possible ... which can otherwise take months in some cases.”

The city is not yet clear on the extent of damage to its wastewater reclamation facility, the headquarters for a system that collects, stores and treats water from faucets, showers and toilets. Approximately 8 inches of water from nearby Dry Creek spilled over into the operations building, where staff monitor controls connected to pumping stations throughout the city. About 3 feet of water also inundated a low-lying office building that acts as a staff workshop, and floodwaters blocked entry to access roads into the facility.

“It’s kind of like an island surrounded by water,” said Terry Crowley, the city’s utility director. “We need to start the treatment process as soon as we can, but need to let the water recede before we can get the operations started again.”

The wastewater system is still accepting and storing wastewater, and the city estimates it can continue doing so for another 24 to 36 hours before it would overflow.

Once the floodwaters recede, likely within the next day, the city plans to get back inside the operations building with more staff to review the damage and make repairs to restart treatment activities. A contractor will be hired to repair the workshop as well.

The declaration will be presented to the Healdsburg City Council for ratification at its next regular meeting on Monday.

In the interim, the city manager’s decision allows emergency-activity expenditures around Healdsburg to protect residents, businesses and property for up to a month.

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