Construction continues on water vault after McKinley Park residents file lawsuit

Construction continues at Sacramento’s McKinley Park where a water-sewage vault is being built after nearby residents file a lawsuit.

A judge decided in February not to halt the city’s plans to build the massive tank.

The debate over the way to solve the East Sacramento neighborhood’s flooding problems has long been brewing, and residents filed a lawsuit in November 2018, saying that it ruins the historic look of McKinley Park.

The city says the new 6 million gallon vault will temporarily store rainwater and reduce flooding, and approved the plan to dig up more than 76,000 square feet of the park, about the size of three football fields. Construction workers will also dig 20 feet deep.

But residents say the system is outdated because it combines 7.4 million gallons of sewage and storm water to be stored underground, and they want a more modern system that splits the two.

A lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court on behalf of the Citizens for a Safe and Sewage Free McKinley Park says that the city has “refused to pursue a separate storm water/sewage system that would solve East Sacramento’s flooding problem permanently.” The lawsuit also says the vault itself will “cause significant impacts that have not been adequately disclosed, studied, or mitigated in the project’s environmental report.”

The group says no meaningful studies on noise, traffic issues and hazardous materials were done before the start of the project.

The city approved the design plans for new vault in October 2018.

McKinley Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the lawsuit.

A new system could cost the city about $2 billion and take 20 years to complete, according to officials.

While Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard Sueyoshi makes a decision on the lawsuit, the construction on the vault will continue.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.