WRF Project Manager Replaced

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

May 6, 2021

There’s been a shake up on the City of Morro Bay sewer project team, as the man who had been the project manager left recently and was replaced by another person from the same firm.

City Manager Scott Collins said he announced to the Public Works Advisory Board and the Citizen’s Finance Advisory Board that Water Reclamation Facility program manager, Eric Caseras with the engineering firm Carollo Engineers, left the firm in April “to pursue a new career path.”

Carollo appointed a new lead person to act as the project manager. “In his stead,” Collins told Estero Bay News, “Carollo assigned Kyle Rhorer to the WRF Program Manager role. Kyle has familiarity with the Morro Bay community and the WRF project.”

Collins said Caseras had been working closely with the whole Carollo team that is acting as project managers for the $138 million Water Recycling Facility or WRF project now underway in the city.

Rhorer takes over managing a project that’s been somewhat of a snake-bit practically from the start.

In early May 2020, less than 2 months after starting the immense amount of grading needed for the project’s treatment plant site above the terminus of South Bay Boulevard, an estimated 15,000-cubic yard landslide occurred on a slip plane that hadn’t been identified in previous studies.

That left the contractors, Filanc/Black & Veatch, to rework the grading plans and find space to store all that excess dirt, which was eventually added to the tremendous amount of fill dirt needed for the plant site. It also added $280,000 in costs to the project.

On March 11 (2021) unknown thieves struck at both the treatment plant site and the Quintana Road pipeline construction site. Police said someone got into the locked storage trailers at the plant site and stole some $150,000 worth of equipment and supplies in the largest commercial burglary in town history.

Police have not said how much or what was lost at the Quintana Road burglary, which was also taken from storage containers.

And on April 7, when work began in earnest on the 3.3 miles of pipelines that must be laid for the conveyance system portion of the WRF, the contractor, Anvil Const., accidentally cut into a water main on Quintana Road connected directly to the Kings Street tank farm. Some 54,000 gallons of drinking water was lost.

Then as a City crew was finishing up repairing the water line, the company accidentally broke an above ground sewer main, installed to bypass a lift station out by South Bay and Quintana, spilling approximately 1,100 gallons of raw sewage onto the roadway and into a small drainage ditch alongside the road. The City was able to recapture 650 gallons.

These two pipeline breaks happened on the first day the company started digging trenches.

The change in project managers didn’t come as too much of a surprise to City officials. “Eric did notify us of the change in advance and he worked closely with Kyle and the rest of the Carollo team on the transition,” Collins said. Casares served as project manager from April 2018 to April 2021, according to Collins.

Carollo’s project management contract is worth from $10-$12 million out of a $138 million project.

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