Residents along the south side of Jordan Way in King City say they have been dealing with a "water feature" in their backyards since construction started on Castle Oaks East more than two years ago.
Both Randy and Cheri Collier and Jerry and Anna Feickert have lived in their homes on the street in Bedford Glen for about 23 years. Two-and-a-half years ago, Timberland Homes purchased an undeveloped site between Bedford Glen and the Highlands, brought in mountains of fill and developed Castle Oaks East, which consists of single-family homes and apartments.
That, Jordan Way residents say, is where the water problems come from. Bur a city official disagrees, saying the water problems pre-date the development.
Cheri Collier read a letter about the issue at the Aug. 2 King City City Council meeting, which read in part, "Since the development began, we have had to dig trenches and ditches around our home to stop water from flooding our property…. A simple solution would have been a ditch along the fence line on the Castle Oaks' side, beginning from 131st, to connect into the water containment pond on 128th Avenue."
Cheri Collier said the water flow has only increased and "for the past couple of years, we have been told by King City City Managers Dave Wells and now Mike Weston that they were 'looking into the problem.'"
She raised the issue again at the Aug. 16 council meeting, when she read from a city ordinance that requires run-off to be contained and not flow onto other properties.
Mayor Ken Gibson said, "The city will look into it and see if anything can be done and if the parameters were followed."
Meanwhile, the Colliers and Feickerts are dealing with a constant stream of water from Castle Oaks East even during the long, dry summer.
And the Colliers described the construction phase of Castle Oaks East as a nightmare, starting with logging the trees on the property in the winter and spring of 2015, followed by bringing in fill and grading in the summer and fall of 2016, when water started flowing onto their property.
"They brought in truckloads of dirt and built up the ground level as high as our ceiling and then used loud machines to compact the dirt," Cheri Collier said.
Randy Collier added, "Everyone says it's someone else's problem. Clean Water Services came out and looked at it and said it is King City's issue."
Down the street, the Feickerts are equally distressed about the water coming into their yard and have had to dig trenches in both their back and front yards to deal with the water flow.
"We haven't used our backyard for three summers," Anna Feickert said.
Jerry Feickert, who is chair of the King City Planning Commission and recused himself from the Castle Oaks East approval, said, "I'm sure all of us along our side of the street have a water problem, but some just haven't talked about it.
"We are not going to give up. It's an easy fix and the neighborly thing to do."
On Aug. 23, Weston sent an email to the Regal Courier outlining the city's remediation efforts.
According to Weston, who has been city manager for less than a year and a half, many enhancements were incorporated into the design of the Castle Oaks East subdivision, and he maintained that the Bedford Glen properties "were previously inundated with winter run-off."
"Every backyard I have been in has elaborate French drains or trench systems to convey the water out of the backyards and to the collection system in the street," he wrote. "There is sufficient evidence to suggest that there was a water problem prior to the subdivision."
In response to Weston's assertion that water has always flowed into Bedford Glen, Cheri Collier said that the only time the street experienced flooding prior to the Castle Oaks development during the record-setting winter rains of 1996.
Weston conceded that "when they broke ground in 2015, the run-off was uncontained (other than silt fencing), and many backyards were inundated with water.... "
Weston said that his predecessor, City Manager Dave Wells, asked Timberland Homes to consider alternatives to prevent the ground water from running onto adjacent properties, but Weston does not know the outcome of that request.
"From what I can figure, the city did not make such a system a requirement of development," Weston wrote. "Instead, the engineers developed a system that contained all stormwater run-off from hardened or improved systems. The hardened or improved systems constitute approximately 90 percent of all surface area, thereby reducing the projected stormwater/groundwater by an equal percentage."
Weston believes the water run-off this summer is the result of over-watering the immature landscaping in Castle Oaks East to get it established, and he said that the city is working with engineers and Steve Brown, president and owner of Timberland Homes Inc. "to try and find a solution."
Weston added that Brown has been "very cooperative and helpful as we continue to work toward a solution."
Weston and Brown agree that breaks in a sprinkling system this summer led to temporary flooding but were quickly repaired.
"We are working with Timberland to adjust the watering amounts and schedule in hope that we will provide enough moisture for healthy root growth but keep water volumes to a minimum," Weston wrote.
Brown told the Regal Courier that he followed all regulations imposed on the project, that none of the Jordan Way residents has made a formal complaint to him and that he thinks that all the water in the development is being contained.
"When you do a development, you have engineering people that engineer the project, the jurisdictions rubber-stamp it, and we build it," Brown said. "Our design is dictated by what the rules are.
"I'm not sure what the problem is (with the water drainage)," he added. "There was a huge amount of rain during the construction process. But if you put all the houses with rain gutters on the (5-acre site) plus roadways and driveways into a drainage system, the water is supposed to be carried away."
He thinks that "very little water" is going south onto the Jordan Way properties.
"The last thing I want is to cause problems for anybody, and I'm not sure there is a problem," Brown said. "I've been working with the city and trying to understand the problem.
"I'm waiting for someone to let me know," he added. "I don't believe it's as bad a problem as people say, and I'm more than willing to sit down and figure something out."
However, Cheri Collier asked, "What difference does it make if the water is coming from a sprinkler or from torrential rain? It's coming into our yard instead of being diverted into a drainage ditch. We didn't ask for all this heartache."