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Project underway for improved water supply reliability

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The City of Arcata, Eureka, the McKinleyville Community Services District and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District have been working together since January to improve water supply reliability in the major municipalities. 

Earthquakes are a reality on the North Coast.  Now, a new interconnection system is being installed so Humboldt Bay Water District municipalities do not have to rely on their own water supply during emergencies if the main water system fails.  The $3.6 million Regional Interconnection Project is being funded by a grant through the California Department of Public Health.

"Redundancy is a key component of water systems.  So if you have a break, a big earthquake comes and you have a break in one part of the system, you want to be able to feed water from different directions to be able to provide water to everybody in the system," said Patrick Kaspari, the District Engineer for the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

The first of the three connections was completed in January.  It connects the City of Eureka’s main transmission line to the City of Arcata’s water distribution system, so that Arcata can receive water from Eureka during emergencies.  However, operational testing still needs to be conducted to determine if Arcata can supply Eureka with water during emergencies.

"Everything is going very well with the project.  We've been blessed by good weather and they've been able to keep up a good pace but we're making good progress on the interties," said Carol Rische, the General Manager of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

Construction for the second phase of the Interconnection Project began at the end of March.  It connects the City of Arcata’s distribution system to the McKinleyville Community Services District distribution system by way of the Mad River Bridge over Highway 101. The McKinleyville Community Services District installed a pipeline in the new bridge when it was constructed three years ago with the approval of Caltrans.  They did so in preparation for an improved water supply reliability system.

"That tie will significantly improve the supply reliability to McKinleyville if their sole water line from us breaks, which goes under the Mad River, but also can benefit Arcata if McKinleyville needs to back feed them," said Rische.

Both cities will be able to supply water to each other during emergencies once the phase connecting the water distribution systems of Arcata and McKinleyville and a phase connecting the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District transmission system to the City of Arcata’s distribution system are complete.  However, the new 3-mile system of pipe will not only be used in natural emergencies.

"We had a major system shut down to replace two 50-year-old valves.  In that case, McKinleyville could of used that same emergency system intertie to feed the City of Arcata during that shutdown," Rische said.

Construction on the Regional Interconnection Project is expected to be complete in the early fall.