ALAMEDA, Calif. - The East Bay Municipal Utilities District is performing an engineering wonder to make sure that an earthquake doesn't leave Alameda Island without water since it has no reservoirs of its own. Alameda completely relies on water piped in from East Bay MUD through four old and vulnerable pipelines.
One being replaced right now is 80-years old; a rigid, brittle, cast-iron pipe, highly susceptible to major quakes. "It is flexible. It is durable. It is very strong, and it is very resilient," said EBMUD Engineering & Construction Chief Jimi Yoloye.
This pipe will run 150 feet below the estuary where the ground is much more firm and more resistant to earthquakes, as opposed to the current pipe, which is much higher up and far more susceptible to being destroyed. "We're actually replacing the four existing pipelines with three new pipelines and this is the first of those," said Yoloye.
It took almost a decade to accomplish." We actually started the design of this project with planning phases in 2014. So, it has taken us a long time to get to this point," said Yoloye.
There are 3,000 feet of pipe here and it's very, very heavy. And, that means, when it's going to be pulled, it has to be pulled slowly at the rate of about three-and-a-half feet per minute. Once that is accomplished, that is half the job. The other half of the job is hooking it up to the main system, which will make sure that Alameda has the water it needs.
Another new pipe will be inserted into the old one to bring partially-treated recycled water, for parks, landscaping and use in cooling towers, saving potable water for human uses. "We actually started the design of this project with planning phases in 2014. So, it has taken us a long time to get to this point," said Yoloye.
"We want to make sure that we can diversify that supply as much as we can and recycled water is an important part of that," said EBMUD Public Information Officer Andrea Pook.
It's all part of an ambitious $2.5 billion plan over the next five years. "We have infrastructure, some of which is almost 100 years old and so, our job is to replace, renew and to improve the infrastructure that we have," said Pook.
Included in the plan: building 127 miles of new pipelines, upgrading to several water treatment plants and Lafayette Reservoir, as well as overhauling many neighborhood reservoirs and pumping plants overhauls.