Construction crews are preparing to tunnel beneath the Mokelumne River for a massive pipeline project, but the work shouldn't disrupt traffic or recreation.
The Freeport Regional Water Authority pipeline will deliver drinking water from the Sacramento River to the East Bay Municipal Utility District aqueduct near the Camanche Reservoir.
"It's a big plumbing project," said Jim Smith, EBMUD fisheries biologist in Lodi.
Crews are currently boring 60 feet under the Mokelumne to make sure the pipeline doesn't disturb the river bottom.
"It's probably the most challenging part of the project," said David Bruzzone, the Freeport Project coordinator.
The six-foot-wide pipe, which will pass under Highways 88 and 12 and the Mokelumne River, will not close any roads or affect the Mokelumne Fish Hatchery or recreation area during the pipe laying project, EBMUD spokesman Gerald Schwartz said.
"We shouldn't be shutting down any of the roads," he said. "We're keeping the impact to a minimum."
• Will deliver up to 100 million gallons of water per day to the eastern Bay Area.
• 35 miles of pipe in two sections.
• Six to seven-foot wide pipe.
• Will be completed in 2010.
- News-Sentinel staff.
The nearly $1 billion project will include a total of 35 miles of pipe. A 17-mile pipeline will take water from the Sacramento River to the Folsom South Canal. Another 18 miles of pipe will deliver the water from the canal to the EBMUD aqueduct, which pumps water from Pardee Reservoir to the eastern Bay Area.
The Freeport Project is a joint venture between the Sacramento County Water Agency and EBMUD. When completed in 2010, the pipeline will be able to deliver up to 100 million gallons of water per day to EBMUD customers, but will be used only in dry years.
"If we have ample supply, then we can't take the water," Bruzzone said. "It's only for drought relief."
EBMUD originally had water rights on the American River for the project, but environmentalists successfully challenged those rights in court. EBMUD gets water from the Sacramento River through a contract with the Central Valley Project, according to Schwartz.