Pipleline 4 repair in March 2022 saved money for San Diego County water ratepayers

Asset Management: Successful Pipeline Repair 4 Project in San Diego

Tens of millions of gallons of water are flowing through a major pipeline in North San Diego County after successful repairs on a distressed section of Pipeline 4. The urgent repair project is a testament to the San Diego County Water Authority’s proactive Asset Management Program, which helps maintain water supply reliability while saving ratepayers money. The pipeline near Bonsall, returned to service in March, after a 10-day shutdown.

High-tech asset management program

Water Authority staff detected potential pipeline weaknesses just north of West Lilac Road in January using real-time acoustic fiber-optic monitoring. This technology locates distressed sections of pipelines even while they are in use as part of the agency’s high-tech asset management program.

As a result of the frequency or rate of change of wire breaks, Water Authority staff began preparing in late January for a 10-day shutdown to replace two distressed sections of pipe.

Preparations included:

  • Coordination with member agencies
  • Meeting with affected homeowners in the vicinity of the work
  • Preparing for the aqueduct shutdown
  • Completing engineering design for the pipe replacement; and
  • Procuring a contractor to complete the repair

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-infrastructure

The pipe was delivered on February 28.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

The pipeline was shutdown March 1.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-Urgent Repair

By that evening, the pipe was nearly excavated.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

The next morning, March 2, the Water Authority asset management team performed

an evaluation of the wire breaks.

Asset management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

After the inspection, the installation of the new steel pipe started, including rebar

work for the concrete encasement. On March 5, the contractor poured 12 truckloads of concrete for the encasement.

Pipeline 4 March 2022

Once the pipeline replacement work was completed, crews

took a final walk through of the pipe in preparation of refill.

Maintenance crews reset a blowoff valve assembly that was removed for access to the pipeline.

P4 work completed after 10 day shutdown-March 2022

By the last day of the 10-day shutdown, the contractor had pulled the shoring and was completing backfill, allowing the pipeline to be put back into operation according to schedule.

Asset management team saves ratepayers money

Pipeline 4 repair work included collaboration with five North County member agencies served by the pipeline, and operations staff from throughout San Diego County, which helped plan and execute the timely completion of the repair.

The asset management team uses the latest inspection technologies to detect age-related defects that might be occurring on pipelines and other water conveyance facilities. By identifying defects early, they can often be corrected using localized, low-cost repair methods prior to them becoming larger, more costly issues.

The Water Authority operates and maintains a regional water delivery system capable of delivering more than 900 million gallons of water per day. The system consists of 310 miles of large-diameter pipeline, 1,600 aqueduct-related structures, and approximately 100 metering/flow control facilities.

Collaboration Helps Water Authority Deliver Water Security to Region

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the cost of water — and that makes sense given the economic realities faced by many residents, farmers, and businesses. But it also seems that newer generations of San Diegans do not know there was a time when we didn’t have water when and where we needed it.

Thankfully, that’s not a problem in San Diego County today, even though elsewhere drought-stricken communities face the potential of only having enough water to meet basic health and safety needs. Due to investments we’ve collectively made in seawater desalination, conserved water, reliable infrastructure, and increased storage capacity, the San Diego region has transformed its water supplies from highly insecure to some of the most reliable in the nation.

(Editor’s Note: Gary Croucher is chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.)

Opinion: San Diego, Los Angeles Water Agencies Frame Water Sale as an End to Hostilities

As heavy rain swept across Southern California on Tuesday, another rare water event was taking place. The Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California agreed to buy thousands of acre-feet of water from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Usually, water sales go in the other direction.

The transaction is significant on a number of fronts. The water should help some of MWD’s member agencies that are in dire straights due to drought and severe cutbacks from the State Water Project. Also, the deal again underscores that the Water Authority, which also is a member under Metropolitan’s umbrella, has for years moved to diversify and stockpile water supplies to become more resilient during drought conditions.

Water Authority Offers Help to Regions in Need During Drought

April 23, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors yesterday authorized staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California.

Three decades of investments in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, mean the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years. Those investments include high-priority conserved water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the Water Authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water.

Gary Croucher-Board Chair-San Diego County Water Authority-Primary

Building a Collaborative Vision for San Diego County

We welcome the new year with heavy hearts about the recent events in our nation’s Capitol and a renewed commitment to civility and respect at every level of government.

At the same time, we are maintaining our concentration on our priorities for the year, which are numerous and significant. I’m focused on advancing San Diego County’s interests as we continue to fulfill our mission of making sure that our region has safe and reliable water supplies at an affordable price, which is critical to maintaining our economic competitiveness and sustaining our wonderful quality of life.

Here’s some good news about how the Water Authority is putting San Diego County first in 2021:

  • As part of our commitment to meeting some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world, the Water Authority and Poseidon Water have launched a state-of-the-art project evaluating intake screen technologies at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant, which has served more than 65 billion gallons of locally produced water over the past five years. Crews are testing both active screen and passive screen technologies in Agua Hedionda Lagoon to complete the full-scale project by the end of 2023.
  • We are updating our Urban Water Management Plan, which is a critical part of meeting the long-range water needs of the San Diego region for both normal years and dry years. This planning document is increasingly important given the increasingly unpredictable impact of climate change. The planning process is, of course, a collaborative effort with our 24 member agencies as we account for their local supplies and demand projections.
  • Our low-cost supplies of conserved water from the Imperial Valley are the foundation of our diversified supply portfolio. With Board direction, staff has launched the next phase of a study to explore a new system to deliver those supplies because initial studies show it could be most cost-effective than the current system and mutually beneficial for our partners in the valley. The study will only advance if it benefits the region by providing cost savings for ratepayers.
  • As the regional economy recovers, we are working hard to protect ratepayers by maintaining a focused and strategic budget. It’s a tough balance, but we are working hard to find the right combination of near-term and long-term funding priorities in these challenging times.
While I’m glad to put the old year behind us and welcome 2021, I’m certain there will be many challenges and opportunities ahead. I’m committed to keeping you informed along the way, and to working with our Board, member agencies, stakeholders, regional leaders and ratepayers to create innovative solutions. In my 20-plus years on the Water Authority Board, we’ve never shied away from big and bold ideas – and 2021 will be no exception.
Gary Croucher-Board Chair-San Diego County Water Authority-Primary

Building a Vision of Regional Strength Through Collaboration

If more than three decades in the fire service taught me anything, it’s that we are always stronger together. This has never been more clear than over the past several months, as the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked together to ensure an affordable, safe and reliable water supply, as San Diego County works to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. I truly believe we are stronger when we roll up our sleeves and work together. As we used to say on the fire lines: You go, we go.

We know how to do this because we’ve been doing it for more than 75 years. Working together, the Water Authority and its member agencies have built a water supply that supports our economy and quality of life and protects us from shortages in times of drought and emergencies. Our diversified supply, including major conservation investments in the Imperial Valley, is held up as a statewide and nationwide model.

The Water Authority plays a critical role as the region’s long-term water planning agency and wholesale water provider for 3.3 million residents and our $245 billion economy. We take the long view because we’re responsible for ensuring a safe and reliable water supply for our children and grandchildren. That’s a challenging task in our semi-arid region with few natural water resources, requiring us to look decades ahead to weigh complex options that serve the region’s water ratepayers and taxpayers.

As the newly elected Chair of the Water Authority, my number one priority will be to support critical long-term planning initiatives to ensure that water and facilities are in place to support future generations at an affordable cost. I plan to do this working in collaboration not only with the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies, but also with other regional agencies such as the Imperial Irrigation District and Metropolitan Water District. The Water Authority will also be working with key stakeholders, including environmental, business and other civic and philanthropic groups.

In taking the helm, I also want to recognize the work by General Manager Sandy Kerl, including her leadership through the myriad challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is responsible for day-to-day operations at the Water Authority and for guiding a talented staff of about 250 employees, most of whom are now working and sheltering in place. Sandy and her leadership team worked especially hard to limit rate increases during the pandemic, and will be looking for new ways to protect ratepayers as we head toward 2021.

In closing, I want to assure you that you can count on me in the spirit of, “you go, we go!” The Water Authority stands behind our 24 member agencies and the commitment to providing an affordable, safe and reliable water supply now, and for future generations. At the end of the day, I am confident that San Diego County is, and will remain, stronger together.

The El Camino Real infrastructure improvement project has reached its midway point and will be complete in Spring 2021. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

El Camino Real Infrastructure Project Reaches Milestone

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District project to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas has now reached the halfway point. After getting underway in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is making steady progress. District officials expect the entire project to be completed in Spring 2021.

During the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project, OMWD is replacing approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road, and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines are also being replaced.

The two pipelines were originally installed in 1961 and 1974, and were fast approaching the end of their lifespan.

El Camino Real infrastructure project – ensuring water supply reliability

The pipeline replacement will reduce water loss and prevent emergency shutdowns due to leaks. This is vitally important for water conservation and to ensure water supply reliability for businesses and residents.

“OMWD has a robust water loss prevention program in place which reduces costs associated with water loss and emergency repairs in addition to conserving one of our most precious resources,” said OMWD Board Director Christy Guerin. “This project is a big undertaking, but it is absolutely important to the health and safety of the community.”

Bike lane striping reduces inconvenience to residents

The El Camino Real infrastructure project will work through five phases and is expected to be completed by Spring 2021. Graphic: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“OMWD and the city work closely together to find opportunities like these where we can streamline projects and reduce the inconvenience  they may cause to residents,” said Guerin, who is also the vice chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and former Encinitas mayor and councilmember.

Bike lanes included in El Camino Real infrastructure project

The pipeline replacement is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The City of Encinitas’ green bike lane portion of the project will begin at that time.

The green bike lane portion of the project will provide traffic calming measures, including improvements to safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes. In addition, green-colored striping will augment some areas on the bike lanes and new signage and pavement markings will be installed.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is implementing the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas as an efficiency measure, which is taking place concurrently with the pipeline replacement project.

Collaboration on infrastructure improvements

The two agencies have combined what would normally be two separate, unrelated infrastructure improvement projects into a single effort to improve operational efficiency and reduce the temporary inconvenience of disruptions to area residents and businesses.

“These improvement projects are important for the continued success and safety of the surrounding areas,” said Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca. “We understand that anytime you are working in the road, especially in high-traffic areas, there can be traffic and noise impacts. That is why the City of Encinitas and OMWD are working together closely to minimize the time we need to be out there and keep any impacts to the public at a minimum.”

Overnight work

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

At the start of the project, Encinitas requested that work be done at night to further reduce traffic impacts. During the stay-at-home order, work could be completed during daytime hours due to significantly reduced traffic levels. However, as traffic has returned to normal levels, the City requested work hours be shifted back to overnight.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District officials continue to work closely with Encinitas officials to monitor the project’s impact on traffic on a week-by-week basis and modify the schedule as needed. Both public agencies and the project contractor Teichert Energy and Utilities Group continue to adapt and respond to opportunities to mitigate impacts to the surrounding community while maintaining efficiency.

Project updates are on the water district’s website.

Loveland Reservoir-Firefighter Helicopter-Valley Fire-Sweetwater Authority

Water Agencies Assist in Fighting Valley Fire

The Sweetwater Authority and the Otay Water District collaborated with multiple agencies during the recent Valley Fire in San Diego County. Water infrastructure played a key role in the firefighting effort.

Cooperation and collaboration are critical elements during wildfires. Both water agencies worked with multiple responders, including U.S. Forest Service firefighters, CALFIRE and SDG&E, to ensure the safety of crews and keep a safe, reliable water supply flowing for their customers.

The Valley Fire started September 5, southeast of Alpine in the Cleveland National Forest. Before it was fully contained on September 24, the wildfire burned 16,390 acres and destroyed at least 30 homes, according to officials with the Cleveland National Forest.

Loveland Reservoir plays key role in firefighting efforts

Water agency infrastructure, employees and the public were directly threatened. The fire started in Alpine near the Sweetwater Authority Loveland Reservoir. Employees and anglers at the reservoir had to be evacuated.

Reservoir water was used throughout the firefighting efforts. Designated as critical infrastructure, Loveland was protected by fire crews, who used bulldozers on the property to create fire breaks.

Sweetwater Authority also made water tankers available to provide drinking water to crews and other agencies working the fire.

Valley Fire-Water Drop-Sweetwater Authority-Alpine

A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Valley Fire near Alpine in September 2020. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Infrastructure at Loveland Reservoir to protect water quality and provide for recreation was protected and did not sustain damage during the fire.

“We are grateful to the firefighters who worked tirelessly to protect Loveland Reservoir,” said Sweetwater Authority General Manager Tish Berge. “This reservoir is crucial in providing local water and keeping water rates low for our customers.”

The region was in the early stages of a prolonged heatwave when the fire started. The San Diego Union-Tribune reporters covering the fire wrote on September 5:

El Cajon hit 114 degrees and Alpine reached 113 — the highest temperatures ever recorded in those communities — while Ramona got to 112 and San Diego State University topped out at 105, according to the National Weather Service.

By Saturday night, fire fighters were working to control a wildfire that grew to more than 1,500 acres in the rural Japatul Valley area of East County, threatening homes and forcing evacuations.

“We’re throwing everything at it,” said Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser, as teams used helicopters and air tankers to make water drops. “It is going to be an extreme-attack fire. It is nothing we are putting out tonight.”

Otay Water District urges energy conservation

The Otay Water District safely curtailed electric power at its facilities during the Valley Fire as requested by SDG&E to help alleviate fire and weather concerns.

In addition to the prolonged heatwave and the Valley Fire, SDG&E continued to monitor potential high fire risk weather conditions. Those conditions may have forced SDG&E to shut off power to reduce the risk of a wildfire. Prior to the Valley Fire, Otay encouraged customers in its service area to safely conserve energy.

“We believe that any actions a local water agency like the Otay Water District can take to help SDG&E during heatwaves and the fires contributes to the region’s safety as a community,” said Otay Water District General Manager Jose Martinez.

Fighting wildfires involves cooperation from many agencies. The Valley Fire is another example of how water agencies, and water infrastructure, are key parts of those efforts. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

ValleyFire-InciWeb-Sweetwater Authority

Area covered by the Valley Fire in San Diego County, September 2020. Graphic: InciWeb

The local chapter of the American Public Works Association honored the Pipeline 5 relining project for the successful collaboration between the Water Authority, contractor, local agencies and nearby communities. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Major Relining Project Honored by the American Public Works Association

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Public Works Association recently recognized a San Diego County Water Authority pipeline relining project for its excellence as a public works project. The award commends the successful partnership between Water Authority staff, the contractor and local agencies working together to complete this critical repair to maintain the reliability of the regional water supply.

Relining project covers 12,300 feet

Pipeline 5 was relined from the point of delivery with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to Sage Road in the Fallbrook and Rainbow communities in north San Diego County. The $24.7 million project was completed in July 2019 and relined approximately 12,300 feet of Pipeline 5, a 96-inch large-diameter regional pipeline.

30-year pipeline relining program rehabilitates aging pipes

Relining is a cost-effective method to repair pipelines and extend their service life with less impacts to the community and environment than if a traditional pipe replacement is performed. The relining process avoids digging up miles of pipeline, which would take significantly more time and resources, as well as impact associated streets and driveways for a long period of time.

“The Water Authority’s asset management program used an acoustic fiber monitoring system to help perform evaluations of the pipeline and prioritize this portion for rehabilitation,” said Jerry Reed, director of engineering at the Water Authority. “Our staff collaborated with stakeholders in Fallbrook, San Marcos and Rainbow, including staff at our member agencies and nearby residents to ensure project success.”

The project work areas were surrounded by residential homes and farms, heavily traveled public streets and a local retirement community.

Close coordination with multiple agencies ensured there were no impacts to water deliveries. Open communications with local residents regarding project schedule ensured no incidents occurred with local traffic.

Proactive asset management program rehabilitates crucial water infrastructure

The relining project was part of the Water Authority’s proactive and innovative asset management program to rehabilitate and reline pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe within the Water Authority’s conveyance system to ensure continued supply reliability.

The local APWA chapter chose the project based on criteria that included superb planning, efficient design and construction management techniques to complete the project on schedule, within a cost-effective budget and adherence to regulatory requirements. It was also judged on the degree it enhanced a public service or facility, the quality of community relations or actions to minimize public impacts, safety precautions taken to protect lives and property, environmental impact mitigation measures and other accomplishments under adverse conditions.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Recycled Water Expansion Project is Project of the Year

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Recycled Water Pipeline Extension 153A was recognized September 10 as a 2020 Project of the Year by the San Diego and Imperial County Chapter of the American Public Works Association at its virtual awards event. The pipeline extension connected the Surf Cup Sports youth soccer fields in San Diego to OMWD’s recycled water distribution system. By allowing Surf Cup to convert the irrigation of 55 acres of grass fields to recycled water, OMWD has reduced potable water demands for irrigation by up to 100 million gallons per year.