Maintaining and upgrading regional water infrastructure are core commitments for the Water Authority – and in 2018, the agency both started and completed several major facility-related projects to ensure a safe and reliable water supply. They include taking over the operation and maintenance of the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station; installing new seismic sensors at San Vicente Dam; adding flow-control infrastructure in North County; working on two major pipeline relining projects; and advancing a major rehabilitation project on the First Aqueduct to ensure decades of continued operation. The Water Authority’s efforts drew regional recognition with awards for upgrades at Miramar and Nob Hill – and they will provide benefits for decades to come.

  • In-House Operations Generate Substantial Savings

    Water Authority staff in November took over operation and maintenance of the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station Facility, a 40-megawatt pumped storage facility that began commercial operation in 2012 to help meet peak power demands. The site had been run by a vendor under a contract that expired in October, providing an opportunity for the Water Authority to move the work in-house. Extensive preparation and planning ensured a seamless transition. Under staff operation, the facility has been available for service nearly 99 percent of the time, exceeding the target of 97 percent. The benefit for ratepayers is significant: In-house operation is projected to save the Water Authority more than $500,000 annually.

    Operations and Management Staff
    Dedicated staff in the Operations and Maintenance Department ensured a successful transition to in-house operations at the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric Pump Station.
  • Seismic Monitoring Upgraded at San Vicente Dam

    In a region prone to earthquakes, San Vicente Dam near Lakeside was given an extra measure of security in July – a series of instruments installed inside the dam that can sense small structural movements. Positioning the new inclinometer required drilling a 4-inch diameter hole through concrete – 125 feet down from the top of the dam – and inserting seven highly sensitive devices at various depths. The sensors will allow inspectors and regulators to track any permanent movement of the raised portion of the dam following a strong earthquake. The San Vicente Dam Raise was designed to remain operational after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, and five strong-motion accelerometers were installed on and near the dam to record vibrating responses of the dam during the earthquake. An inclinometer was not included in the dam’s original design, however, the state’s Division of Safety of Dams requested that an inclinometer be installed to improve seismic monitoring.

    Drilling for Inclinometer Installation
    Crews drilled a 125-foot-deep hole in the top of San Vicente Dam for installation of a new instrument to detect small structural movements.
    Close up of Inclinometer
    A close-up view of the new inclinometer.
  • Carlsbad 6 Flow Control Facility Completed

    An outdated flow-control structure at the Carlsbad 6 Flow Control Facility in San Marcos was replaced in March to meet current seismic and safety standards. Carlsbad 6 is a key component of North County water infrastructure because it meters and controls delivery of treated water from Pipelines 3 and 4 to the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. Kiewit Infrastructure West started the replacement project in December 2016. Work included rehabilitating turnout structures that connect Carlsbad 6 to Water Authority Pipelines 3 and 4; establishing a new service connection point to Carlsbad’s Pressure Control Facility; and demolishing the previous flow-control facility, which had been built in 1959.

    Carslbad Flow Control Facility
    Contractors installed an automated 24-inch plunger valve, which helps control the flow of water though the Carlsbad 6 Flow Control Facility.
  • Relining Projects Safeguard the Region

    The Water Authority took significant steps to increase the lifespan of critical water pipelines during the fiscal year, soliciting bids for a major relining project in Fallbrook and nearing completion of a similar project in La Mesa. In Fallbrook, more than two miles of high-priority sections of Pipeline 5 will be rehabilitated by mid-2019 at the cost of approximately $25 million. That project includes developing nine access portals, along with fabrication, delivery and installation of 96-inch steel pipe liners. To the south, a $28.6 million rehabilitation project covered more than four miles of large-diameter pipeline between Lake Murray and Sweetwater Reservoir. Project work was essentially finished during the fiscal year. When both projects are officially completed, the Water Authority will have rehabilitated more than 47 miles of prestressed concrete cylinder pipeline, passing the halfway point toward its goal of relining all 82 miles of PCCP in the Water Authority’s system.

    Worker welding relining tube
    Work on more than four miles of large-diameter pipeline between Lake Murray and Sweetwater Reservoir was featured in WaterWorld magazine as "San Diego's Innovative Approach to Pipeline Remediation."
  • Design Phase Completed for Major Renovation of First Aqueduct

    Rehabilitation of pipelines 1 and 2 – the Water Authority’s original pipelines that stretch from the northern edge of the county 35 miles south to San Vicente Reservoir – took a major step forward with the completion of the design stage in June. The two pipelines form the Water Authority’s First Aqueduct, which was built in the 1940s and 1950s. It is being upgraded in two phases, along with approximately 150 valves and other related facilities. The first phase focuses on 15 miles of the First Aqueduct extending from the connection with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California near the northern boundary of San Diego County south to Hubbard Hill in Escondido. The second phase focuses on about 20 miles from Hubbard Hill to the aqueduct’s termination point near Lakeside.

    Three men inside Tunnel 1947
    Crews work inside Pipeline 1 in 1947.
  • Valve Actuator Replacements Boost System Reliability

    A project to replace approximately 100 electric valve actuators across the Water Authority delivery system significantly reduced repair demands and increased operational reliability. At issue were remotely operated valves that control the flow of water throughout the aqueduct system and about 170 valve actuators that allow the system to work. Many of the previous actuators were obsolete, increasingly unreliable and difficult to repair because replacement parts are hard to find. The new continuous duty actuators have operated reliably, improved the position accuracy of the valve control, and are more user-friendly than the previous actuators, with improved interface displays and troubleshooting features.

    Valve Actuator
    New valve actuators improved reliability and
    accuracy across the Water Authority's large-scale
    water delivery system.
  • Pipeline Protection Project Under Way at Moosa Creek

    The second phase of a major stormwater control project launched in May to protect three pipelines under Moosa Creek in Bonsall. The creek is dry most of the year, but runoff has exposed the top of Pipeline 4, and erosion has decreased the groundcover over Pipelines 3 and 5. Continued erosion likely would cause these pipelines to fail, prompting a two-phase effort to protect the infrastructure before major problems materialized. The first step was to immediately restore the eroded soil and deploy grouted mats of connected concrete blocks for pipeline protection. The second phase, scheduled for completion in Fiscal Year 2019, involves strategic placement of half-ton riprap to armor channel slopes against stormwater erosion.

    Moosa Canyon
    Rip-rap and grouted mats of concrete blocks were installed to protect the Water Authority's pipelines in Bonsall.
  • Proactive Assessment Leads to Pipeline 3 Repairs

    The Water Authority contracted with Pipeline Inspection and Condition Analysis to assess the condition of Pipeline 3 in Spring Valley and Chula Vista during November and December. The project involved the assessment of about five miles of welded steel liners installed in pre-stressed concrete pipe in the 1980s. Overall, the welded steel liners proved to be in good condition. However, the assessment identified six locations of poor seam welds installed during the original construction, and a series of welded steel patch plates were installed over the poor welds to prevent potential future problems.

    Pipeline Repairs
    Assessing the condition of Pipeline 3 included a detailed review of potentially compromised welds using ultrasonic technology for steel-thickness measurements.
    Welding Steel Liner
    A worker inside Pipeline 3 removed a section of corroded pipe and prepared the area for a repair patch.
  • East County Agreements Reflect New Conditions

    In April, the Water Authority modified its East County Regional Treated Water Improvements Program Agreements, which were first adopted in the early 2000s when the Water Authority funded capacity improvements in Helix Water District’s conveyance system and the Levy Water Treatment Plant to meet the demands of East County agencies. Modifications to the agreements address changing water supply and demand conditions while ensuring cost recovery for Water Authority investments. Changes include the termination of Lakeside Water District’s purchase agreement (because the agency has met its financial obligations) and the removal of annual purchase volume requirements for Otay Water District and Padre Dam Municipal Water District, while requiring both agencies to pay their remaining balances by the end 2028. Under the updated arrangements, the Water Authority retained capacity rights in Helix’s Levy plant and Helix’s conveyance facilities.

    Helix Levy Plant
    Helix Water District's Levy Water Treatment Plant is a key component of the East County Regional Treated Water Improvements Program.

Miramar and Nob Hill Projects Honored

The regional chapter of the American Public Works Association conferred two Project of the Year awards on the Water Authority in 2018 for a pipeline upgrade in Scripps Ranch and a rebuilt pump station near Miramar Reservoir. Both projects help ensure reliable water deliveries across the San Diego region. The $4.4-million Miramar Pump Station Rehabilitation Project involved a makeover of the 38-year-old facility, which was designed to help provide ample supplies of water to member agencies throughout the region in the event of an earthquake or other emergency. The Nob Hill Improvements Project involved replacing and repositioning pipelines in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Scripps Ranch to eliminate the possibility of hydraulic pressure spikes that could have caused damage to the water delivery system.

Miramar NobHill and APWA
Upgrades at the Miramar Pump Station and a pipeline in the Nob Hill neighborhood earned regional recognition for the project teams.