Crystal Springs reservoir ready for reinforcement

A $150 million upgrade to pipelines that serve water to San Francisco and Peninsula communities that aims to improve seismic and delivery reliability is slated to begin next fall, pending approval of measures to mitigate the project’s environmental impact.

Crystal Springs Reservoir is situated west of Interstate Highway 280. It is the primary water storage facility on the Peninsula.

The Crystal Springs project would reinforce portions of a water pipeline. As proposed, it would also seismically upgrade the Upper Crystal Springs Dam culverts — pipes that transfer water underground — and strengthen the Lower Crystal Springs culvert, which crosses the San Andreas Fault.

Additionally, it would seismically improve portions of above-ground towers that help transfer water to the San Andreas Reservoir to the north. And a new pump station would be built with a larger water capacity.

A public hearing on the project’s draft environmental impact report is scheduled for Tuesday at the Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame; a second hearing will take place Dec. 10 at the San Francisco Planning Commission.

Environmental concerns outlined in the project report include impacts on fishery resources in Crystal Springs Reservoir and protected wildlife species, as well as noise, and impacts to air quality and transportation. 

Alternatives to the project outlined in the report include a new Crystal Springs/San Andreas pipeline, a new tunnel, and seismically upgrading the project without building new access roads.

Not going forward with the project would make the water system seismically vulnerable, which could result in discharges of water from failure points, and lead to erosion and flooding, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  The agency, which provides water to customers in the Peninsula, is overseeing the project.

The Crystal Springs project would reinforce portions of a redundant pipeline on the Peninsula to ensure water will continue to be served to communities during high-demand summer months and in the event of a major earthquake, said Tasso Mavroudis, an SFPUC senior project manager.

 “These pipes are used all the time,” Mavroudis said. “It will help us continue to supply in tough times.”

Construction is expected to begin in October 2010, Mavroudis said. The total construction cost for the project is estimated between $100 million and

$150 million. The project will take roughly three years to complete.

Water supplies will not be disrupted during construction, he said.

The total Crystal Springs project area covers 135 acres, running approximately 7.6 miles across the Peninsula Watershed. It is part of larger program to improve the entire Hetch Hetchy water system, which serves 2.6 million people in the Bay Area through 167 miles of pipeline. There are 86 total projects in the system upgrade estimated to cost $4.6 billion.

Last month, SFPUC completed emergency repairs on a second Crystal Springs reservoir pipe after crews found a leak in it. Maureen Barry, a commission spokeswoman, said the planned retrofit work is on a separate pipe and not related to the emergency repair.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Protecting our water

The upgrades are designed to reinforce the area’s water system.

$4.6 billion
Estimated cost of program to upgrade Hetch Hetchy water system

86
Separate projects in the Water System Improvement Program

$100 million-$150 million
Projected cost to upgrade Crystal Springs/San Andreas Transmission on the Peninsula

2.6 million
Bay Area water customers served by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

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