As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, public agencies have found creative solutions to holding meetings in compliance with the State of California’s meeting laws. Recently, Fallbrook Public Utility District board members stepped away from their video screens, using the opportunity to take a field trip to view a new project while conducting a traveling board meeting.
The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project is a joint project with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and will eventually supply about 30% of the District’s water, and virtually all of Camp Pendleton’s water.
Fallbrook PUD board members view construction project
At the time of the tour, the project had been under construction for 250 days. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, board members and others who attended the traveling meeting stayed in their cars. While behind the wheel, board members wove through parts of Fallbrook to follow the path of the new pipeline. With their smartphones turned on and hands-free, representatives followed each other in a single file parade while listening to a live conference call with the project contractor. Board members learned about construction progress, and saw where and how the pipe will be installed.
The tour and the project began at the treatment plant on Alturas Road, where bulldozers and heavy machinery are moving earth to build the pipeline and a water treatment plant. The pipeline will transport water from the plant through parts of central Fallbrook, ending at McDonald Road. The project also includes a new four million-gallon storage tank, where the tour ended. Participants discussed the possibility of a subsequent tour to view ongoing progress with construction of the facilities.
The entire construction process will take approximately two years to complete, with the pipeline becoming fully operational by 2022.
The Fallbrook Public Utility District has amended its design contract for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project so that the groundwater treatment plant can also remove per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminants from the treated water. A 5-0 FPUD board vote Jan. 27 approved an amendment to the design contract with Infrastructure Engineering Corporation which will provide IEC with an additional $771,143 and which will provide FPUD with treatment process selection, design services, and construction administration for the additional facilities.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has a subsidy program for projects which produce local supply and the projects MWD will fund now include the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.
MWD’s board vote Sept. 10 approved the agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority and the Fallbrook Public Utility District. FPUD is expected to receive $23,637,500 in incentive payments over a 25-year period.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted in July to authorize a Local Resources Program Agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Fallbrook Public Utility District for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.
The Local Resources Program, managed by MWD, provides funding for local water supply projects. MWD is expected to provide final approval of the project in coming months.
Earlier this year, an agreement between FPUD and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton settled a lawsuit that was filed in 1951 over the right to use water from the Santa Margarita River.
Water from Santa Margarita River would reduce imported water demand
The upcoming groundwater recharge project will improve existing facilities and build new facilities to capture surface runoff from the Santa Margarita River. When water flows are high, the runoff would recharge groundwater basins on Camp Pendleton. New and existing wells and pumps will transfer the groundwater to FPUD, which will treat and deliver it to customers.
Water from the river would reduce FPUD’s demand on imported water and minimize Camp Pendleton’s reliance on imported water.
Project would provide 30% of Fallbrook’s total water supply
Facilities will be constructed by Camp Pendleton and FPUD. Camp Pendleton has already constructed its own bi-directional pipeline and related infrastructure, as part of the project, which received congressional funding.
FPUD will construct groundwater extraction wells, a groundwater treatment plant, pump station, storage tank and conveyance and distribution pipelines among other things. The cost of the project is $54.4 million.
FPUD expects construction of the pipeline and treatment plant will begin this fall and take about two years. When completed, the project is expected to produce an estimated 3,100 acre-feet a year. One-acre foot, the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, can supply the average household needs of 2.5 four-person families for one year.
The project would provide about 30 percent of FPUD’s total water supply and nearly all of Camp Pendleton’s water needs.