Friday, April 13, 2007

Water Pipeline Done

Though it is only seven miles long (though it had to go under I-5) this is a very good project that will be of great help moving water to those who need it, and a small sample of what we can do.

New pipeline to feed water to millions
Project's last section finished Wednesday near Lost Hills
BY VIC POLLARD , Californian Sacramento Bureau
e-mail: | Wednesday, Apr 11 2007 10:55 PM

One of the largest pipelines in California was completed in a ceremony outside Lost Hills Wednesday, a move that will provide new protection against costly droughts for millions of urban Californians and hundreds of Central Valley farmers.

A giant crane placed the last section of a cavernous concrete pipeline, 10 feet in diameter, that runs from the California Aqueduct near Lost Hills eastward to a key pumping plant operated by the Semitropic Water Storage District seven miles away.

Semitropic's two-year, $180 million construction project will allow it to expand a unique water-banking program that provides an underground reserve water supply for cities from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.

Semitropic charges the urban water agencies hefty fees to store their water beneath Kern County and uses the money to provide cheaper irrigation water to farmers in the sprawling district northeast of Bakersfield.

The pipeline will be a key link, allowing Semitropic to move huge amounts of water owned by the cities from the aqueduct to the groundwater banking area west of Wasco, which is being expanded by more than two-thirds. When the cities want their water back, it will be pumped from wells and put into the pipeline to flow back into the aqueduct, where the cities can get it to their residents.

I-5 tunnel

The project required tunneling under Interstate 5, which made Caltrans officials "kinda nervous," Semitropic manager Will Boschman said.

"We had to prove that we had somebody that knew what they were doing," he said.
The new pipeline is needed because when the water banking program is expanded, the volume of water to be moved in and out of the banking area will exceed the capacity of the canal that now connects the district to the aqueduct, said Boschman. The canal must also be used to get irrigation water from the canal to the district's farmers, its original purpose.

And the pipeline is being completed none too soon, Boschman said. With California's sparse rain and snow this winter, the city agencies have already put in requests to withdraw some of their banked water, something they have done only twice since they started putting water into the bank in 1995, he said.