Major Upgrades Begin on San Diego’s Historic First Aqueduct

May 29, 2024

$66 million project sustains regional economy as part of long-term cost-saving strategy

May 29, 2024 – The San Diego County Water Authority has launched a complex three-year construction project to upgrade the historic First Aqueduct and ensure continued delivery of safe and reliable water supplies for the region. The project, known as the Southern First Aqueduct Facilities Improvement Project, is expected to run through summer 2026 and retrofit 99 structures connected to two massive water pipelines. 

The $66 million effort is funded by water bills across the region as part of the Water Authority’s Capital Improvement Program. That investment supports one of the most extensive renovation projects in the Water Authority’s 80-year history. It is designed to reduce the long-term cost of system maintenance by making upgrades before failures occur and cause costly urgent repairs or leave communities without reliable water supplies.

“This project is a critical investment for our region. It’s part of our robust and continual maintenance of the water delivery system to ensure that we keep a reliable and safe water supply flowing to our member agencies countywide.”

Tish Berge, Chief Operating Officer

Pipeline 1 of the historic First Aqueduct was constructed in the 1940s and Pipeline 2 was built in the 1950s. On November 28, 1947, the first Colorado River water flowed south from Riverside County for 71 miles into the City of San Diego’s San Vicente Reservoir via the First Aqueduct.

Since then, the Water Authority’s delivery system has reliably transported up to 120 million gallons of water per day across the San Diego region. However, the infrastructure requires ongoing rehabilitation, maintenance, and upgrades to extend its life by decades. Work on the Southern First Aqueduct will span 21 miles in Escondido, Rancho Bernardo, Poway and portions of unincorporated San Diego County.

The Water Authority and its member agencies coordinate construction activities to minimize impacts to residents and businesses, and to ensure continued water deliveries. Residents who have questions or concerns about deliveries should contact their local water supplier, while questions about the project should be directed to the Water Authority at FirstAqueduct@sdcwa.org.

The Water Authority is hosting a community open house on the project on Wednesday, June 5, from 5-7 p.m. at the Mickey Cafagna Community Center’s Oak Hall East at 13094 Civic Center Drive in Poway. The meeting will focus on information specific to the Poway section of the project. Additional presentations will be scheduled as work advances into other communities.

For more information about the Southern First Aqueduct Facilities Improvement Project, visit www.sdcwa.org/first-aqueduct.

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

    Media Contact Information

    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135

    Email: GSevilla@sdcwa.org