California Dolphin: statewide California news

Big pipeline to protect water lifeline for 500,000 East Bay residents is OK’d

CONCORD — The water supplier for 500,000 Contra Costa County residents will spend $19.4 million more to protect its main water lifeline from the risks of earthquakes, pollution and leaks — and protect the public from drownings.
The Contra Costa Water District board unanimously approved a contract Wednesday to replace another mile-long, dirt-lined section of the Contra Costa Canal in Oakley with a 10-foot-diameter pipeline between East Cypress Road and Sellers Avenue.
Water managers worry that Delta water deliveries to district customers in Eastern and Central Contra Costa County could be crippled if an earthquake damaged the canal. They say they also worry about risks of pollution spilling into the open canal, and water seeping outward and flooding neighboring properties.
“We are looking to make changes to ensure our water supplies are secure going into the future,” said Jennifer Allen, a water district spokeswoman. “When the canal was built in the 1930s and 1940s, this was very much a rural area, but the landscape has changed a lot.”
A closed pipeline is stronger than a dirt-lined canal, less likely to leak water, and less vulnerable to pollution leaking in or water seeping out, officials said. In addition, people don’t face the drowning danger that they face with an open canal.
To help pay for the pipeline, the district is getting a $14 million state grant, cutting the local share of the pipeline project to about $5.4 million, officials said.
The water district already has spent $26.8 million to replace 7,900 feet of adjacent, dirt-lined canal sections with pipeline, and another 7,600 feet of open canal will be replaced with pipeline at a time to be determined.
The water district delivers Delta water through the canal to 500,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County in an area including Oakley, Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Concord, Clayton and parts of Martinez, Pleasanton Hill and Walnut Creek.
In a separate multi-million project, the district also is considering whether to replace concrete-lined portions of the canal with a pipeline.

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