SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 24 (UPI) — A project to create a 5-mile-long tunnel under San Francisco Bay to carry billions of gallons of water to Bay Area communities has begun, officials said.
When the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s $4.6 billion project to overhaul the area’s water system is completed in 2015, the Bay Division Pipeline 5 will replace two decaying pipelines that now traverse the bay on wooden trestles, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
“These pipelines are old, and they leak,” commission general manager Ed Harrington said. “The question is, do we really want to depend on them in a major earthquake? We really count on this system working, even if others fail.”
The current water network serves 2.5 million customers in San Francisco, the East Bay and the Peninsula. A failure at the trans-bay pipeline during an earthquake could cut off water to businesses, homes and public service agencies for weeks or even months, officials warn.
“This infrastructure was built in the 1920s and 1930s — it wasn’t meant to last this long,” Bob Mues, tunnel project construction manager, said.
“This is state of the art,” he said of the new project.
The underground pipeline won’t cross any major fault lines, but will lie between the San Andreas and Hayward faults.
Because earthquakes cause more shaking at ground level than below it, experts say the pipeline’s location is considered more secure.
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