Pipeline promising to increase water efficiency in SCV sees delays, extra costs

SCV Water logo
SCV Water Agency logo. Courtesy

A water project to modify the pipeline that carries water from Castaic Lake to Sylmar for Los Angeles water consumers was initially expected to cost SCV Water no more than $450,000 and take less than a year to complete.

That was three years ago.

On Tuesday, SCV Water officials were asked to authorize additional cost of $50,000 to the Foothill Feeder Connection project, bringing its total cost to $545,000.

The connection, once in place, promises to greatly enhance water efficiency at SCV Water.

Engineering staffers at the local water agency blame project delays and extra costs on L.A.’s giant water supplier — the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

“The project is taking considerably longer than 335 days,” SCV Water’s Chief Engineer Brian J. Folsom wrote in a memo to the SCV Water board, “primarily, because the MWD, who will own most of the equipment associated with the project and must approve all project submittals, has taken longer than expected to review submittals and has altered some of the specifications.”

As well, MWD officials who were expected to drain the huge pipeline this past winter — in order that work could be done — now have to wait until February 2019.

MET response

Brent Yamasaki, assistant group manager of operations at the MWD, responding to concerns about delayed submittals, said: “There were many more submittals than expected.”

He noted each submittal usually required back-and-forth exchanges and modifications, which slowed the process.

About changes in specifications, Yamasaki said: “We only had one change for a check valve where water goes one way and not the other.”

That change necessitated looking at a number of vendors — a process SCV Water officials assisted MWD officials with “in a spirit of co-operation,” Yamasaki said.

And about missing the chance to drain — or de-water — the pipe this past winter, he said: “The de-water process involves discharging water into the Santa Clara River… and for that we did not have all the environmental permits.”

Foothill Feeder

The Foothill Feeder was built 50 years ago to convey water from Castaic Lake to the Joseph Jensen Water Treatment Plant in Sylmar.  From there, once treated, the water is conveyed to water consumers in the San Fernando Valley.

In 2015, SCV Water — then the Castaic Lake Water Agency — began pursuing plans to replace the pipe that connects the Foothill Feeder to its Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant overlooking Central Park.

Once connected, the Foothill Feeder is expected to supply SCV Water with greater amounts of water, faster and more efficiently.

“This (Foothill Feeder) connection will replace an existing connection and increase the capacity from 60 million gallons each day, or 93.4 cubic feet of water per second increased to 140 cfs,” Kathie Martin, SCV Water spokeswoman, said before the meeting Tuesday.

Vali Cooper & Associates Inc., the construction management services firm contracted by SCV Water officials, originally submitted a proposed budget for the connection at $600,000.

The revised cost board members were asked to authorize proved not too far from the original proposal at $545,000.

Folsom noted in his memo to the board that “there are adequate funds remaining for this work.”

The total cost of the Foothill Feeder Connection project undertaken by the MWD is at least $4.45 million and is expected to be completed by January 2020.

The MWD received a $1.5 million Proposition 84 grant for the project.


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