At the heart of the Water Authority is a driven, efficient and cutting-edge team dedicated to the long-term operation and maintenance of the region’s large-scale water infrastructure. The fruits of that non-stop effort were evident in 2017, when the agency marked the 25th anniversary of its Asset Management Program and neared the halfway point of its pipeline relining initiative.

Along the way, staff deployed new technology for testing pipelines, upgraded a significant section of pipeline in the Nob Hill neighborhood, developed designs for extending the service life of the First Aqueduct, and resolved a major right-of-way encroachment that could have created serious challenges if left unaddressed.

  • Cutting-Edge Asset Management Program Celebrates 25 Years

    The Water Authority’s Asset Management Program marked its 25th anniversary in January as crews inspected a five-mile segment of pipeline in Lakeside with pioneering Remote Field Technology, or RFT. It was the Water Authority’s first deployment of RFT, which measures pipe wall thickness and anomalies by detecting changes in electromagnetic fields. Since its inception in 1992, the Asset Management Program has advanced greatly from visual inspections and pipeline “sounding” – a low-tech method in which crews walked through empty pipelines checking for hollow sounds linked to weak spots. The agency was an early adopter of more sophisticated technologies, including Remote Field Eddy Current, Acoustic Fiber Optic real-time monitoring and Magnetic Flux Leakage. The program has helped to avoid more than $200 million in unnecessary expenditures by prioritizing repairs, avoiding unnecessary work and maximizing the service life of the region’s large-diameter pipeline system.

    The Water Authority continually adopts new, cost-effective tools to maintain the region's large-scale water infrastructure.
  • Miramar Pump Station Upgrades Boost System Reliability

    Completion of the Miramar Pump Station Rehabilitation project in April helped ensure the facility can continue performing its primary role, which is delivering water after an earthquake or a water source is unexpectedly taken offline. The project followed a condition assessment that found the original pumps, motors, valves, and electrical and ventilation equipment required replacement due to age. The $4.4 million project to rehabilitate the 38-year-old facility included the installation of three new vertical turbine pumps and associated piping, along with mechanical, electrical and instrumentation equipment. The pump station is designed to deliver up to 60 cubic feet per second of water supplies to member agencies after an emergency. The Water Authority also can use the facility for other purposes, such as meeting treated water demands during planned maintenance activities and pumping water from the Miramar Water Treatment Plant for the City of San Diego.

    Miramar Pump Station
    Rehabilitating the 38-year-old Miramar Pump Station involved installing three new vertical turbine pumps and associated piping, along with mechanical, electrical and instrumentation equipment.
  • Designs Refined for Rehabilitation of Pipelines 1 and 2

    The Water Authority continued to advance the designs for rehabilitating the agency’s two original pipelines, constructed in 1947 and 1954, to extend their service lives by 50 years. The pipelines comprise the Water Authority’s First Aqueduct, connecting to the Metropolitan Water District’s pipelines at the northern edge of San Diego County and extending south to San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside. Each pipeline is 48 inches in diameter and conveys treated water by gravity, without the use of pumping equipment. The Water Authority’s Asset Management Program identified the need for rehabilitation in 2014 and initiated a two-phase project to upgrade approximately 35 miles of the pipelines. Starting in 2018, crews will remove and replace the interior lining of the steel pipe segments and renovate approximately 150 associated structures along the route, helping to ensure reliable operations for decades.

    Whitcomb and Marston Pipe 1 and 2
    Pipelines 1 and 2 were installed more than 60 years ago to deliver water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Planned upgrades will extend the pipelines' life by several more decades.
  • Nob Hill Improvements Project Completed

    Improvements to the Second Aqueduct in the Nob Hill community in Scripps Ranch reached a milestone in January with the placement of the final pipe section to complete the project’s 590-foot-long tunnel. The Nob Hill Improvements Project lowered portions of Pipelines 3 and 4 to reduce the potential for unplanned water releases during certain operational scenarios in the area. The project included replacing approximately 800 feet of Pipelines 3 and 4 with 96-inch diameter pipeline and building a new 1,600-foot access road within the aqueduct right-of-way. The Board of Directors authorized the acceptance of the project’s Notice of Completion in June.

    Nob Hill Improvements
    The Nob Hill project included replacing two sections of pipeline with a new pipeline segment that improves the Water Authority’s ability to operate and maintain its conveyance system.
  • Pipeline Relining Program Nears Halfway Mark

    The Water Authority completed a pipeline relining project in May that brought the agency near the halfway point in its multi-decade program to assess and rehabilitate 82 miles of prestressed concrete cylinder pipe in the agency’s conveyance system. The project relined more than one mile of the large-diameter prestressed concrete cylinder pipe – also known as PCCP – near Lake Murray to extend its service life. The relining program uses steel liners to rehabilitate and extend the life of PCCP, which was commonly installed in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but was later discovered to be less reliable than predicted. The Water Authority’s relining program has become a model for other agencies looking to protect similar pipes.

    Lake Murray Relining
    A relining project near Lake Murray continued the Water Authority's long-running effort to reinforce prestressed concrete cyclinder pipe throughout its delivery system.
    Relining Program
  • Plan Approved to Protect Exposed Pipeline from Storm Damage

    The Water Authority in April approved a long-term strategy to protect the Second Aqueduct near Moosa Creek in Bonsall from erosion caused by rainstorms. The aqueduct includes Pipelines 3, 4, and 5 – each of which crosses under Moosa Creek. The creek is dry most of the year; however, erosion by years of stormwater partially exposed Pipeline 4 and decreased the groundcover over Pipelines 3 and 5. To prevent erosion from eventually undermining the pipelines, the Water Authority deployed grouted mats of connected concrete blocks in 2016 as an interim protection measure. The long-term plan is to use rip-rap for armoring channel slopes in strategic places, and that work will be completed in 2018.

    Grouted Mats
    Grouted mats of connected concrete blocks serve as an interim measure to protect pipelines from stormwater erosion in North County.
  • Major Encroachment Removed from Right of Way

    Work to remove a major, unpermitted encroachment into the Water Authority’s La Mesa Sweetwater Extension pipeline easement was completed in February after a multi-year effort to negotiate and execute its removal. At issue were stacks of auto parts and racks owned by a truck dismantling company that had been storing items in the right of way. Unresolved, the encroachment would have significantly increased the costs and time of any future pipeline repairs in the area. Negotiations with the company owner allowed the Water Authority to remove the unpermitted items. Staff then worked with the land owner to successfully remove other nearby encroachments, such as a portion of a building and a concrete pad.

    Before Right-of-Way removes encroachment
    Working with landowners to remove right-of-way encroachments minimizes the costs and time involved if pipeline repairs are needed.
  • 3-D Laser Scanning Pilot Project Takes Shape

    The Water Authority’s Engineering Department initiated a pilot project in November to evaluate the usefulness of three-dimensional laser scanning of the Water Authority’s existing facilities for rehabilitation work or new construction. The technology could help document the location and condition of Water Authority facilities, prepare and update record drawings, and design future projects. The Water Authority’s Helix 1 Flow Control Facility in Lakeside was selected for the pilot project because it is scheduled for rehabilitation. A 3-D laser scanning company performed an initial assessment and provided the Water Authority with information about scanning techniques, methods, equipment options and costs. The pilot project proved successful, and the Water Authority plans to use 3-D laser scanning for future facility rehabilitation projects.

    Three-dimensional imagery provides new ways to assess the condition of infrastructure, including this flow control facility.

Water Authority Pipelines by Size

Agency Operates 310 Miles of Pipeline

bar graph showing: 48-inch & under diameter miles - 54- to 69-inch diameter miles - 72- to 96-inch diameter120 miles - 102- to 120-inch diameter37 miles