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Zanoni reveals 'mystery' of North Beach manholes

Posted at 6:41 PM, Oct 23, 2019

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Cell phone video showing a city crew looking for, then digging through asphalt to get to manhole covers, raised questions about how well North Beach's drainage system is being maintained.

According to Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni, the manhole cover in question had been overlayed as part of street maintenance at some point, though he's not sure when.

The main stormwater trunk line for the northeastern part of North Beach lies under Gulfbreeze Boulevard. While it sounds important to keep that maintained, Zanoni says it's not that big of a deal.

That's because, according to Zanoni, those trunk lines maintain themselves.

“They're self-cleaning essentially, and when there's a large storm event, the scouring effect from heavy flushes of water tends to clean the system out,” said Zanoni. “Where you don't have heavy concentrations and where things can stagnate is the inlets; that's why our preventative maintenance program focuses on the inlets.”

So why was that crew digging for manholes to a line that doesn't need to be maintained? Zanoni says an upcoming presentation about the stormwater system raised questions -- about North Beach especially.

“Given those questions, there was an elevated focus on North Beach,” said Zanoni. “The department wanted to make sure we had a good handle on the system.”

So, is the system working on North Beach?

Zanoni says yes; something proved, he says, by water on the street, even though there's been no rain.

“As the tides, especially in October, come in during high tide," said Zanoni, "the water basically comes in through the system, up through the inlets, and then on to the street.

He also believes the real drainage issue on North Beach is its elevation, or lack thereof.

“To fix that you have to raise the streets, raise the level of the land, and then slope in drainage; either to a bigger drainage system or to an open channel,” said Zanoni.

As for where that crew was digging Friday, it’s been filled in like a pothole, as were others that were dug up elsewhere. According to Zanoni, they were covered to prevent traffic hazards. The next step is to raise the manhole lids to match the overlay level. There is no timetable for this.

The city manager also said the public hearing and first vote on the tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) for North Beach has been moved forward.

That vote will now be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29 -- the same day city staff gives its recommendations for a North Beach drainage solution. It was previously set for Nov. 12th, after it was pulled from last week's city council agenda. The vote was delayed after some council members asked for more information about the TIRZ.

Thursday morning, the city council and County Commissioners will hold a joint workshop on the TIRZ.