Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 24, 2014

Water works

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

A string of comment in last Friday post inspired me to do a series of posts on how bad the infrastructure at Alameda Point is right now.  As a commenter suggested, the first step to thinking and talking about Alameda Point is reminding folks that Alameda Point is not a blank slate and that there are a lot problems above the surface but probably more below.  Given that we currently like and value a lot of the existing businesses out at Alameda Point (yes?  we do like our Alameda Point businesses do we not) if we do nothing and things continue to grow worse for existing businesses, the likelihood of them sticking around for the long haul if they can’t get a consistent supply of potable water or their gas service to work is slim to none.

The City recently completed a Master Infrastructure Plan (or the MIP) to discuss the deficiencies with Alameda Point’s infrastructure and what is needed to bring it up to code.  In addition to the infrastructure being almost 70 years old, it hasn’t been adequately maintained over the years.  The City still owns almost all the utilities which means that if it breaks, we fix it.

So, the first in a series, this one will tackle the potable water system at Alameda Point.

The current state of affairs, from the MIP:

This existing system was installed by the Navy and the majority of the system is over 60 years old. In 1986, the existing water system in the southeast portion of the Project Site was reconstructed and new pipelines were installed.

The existing potable water system of pipelines ranges in size from 6-inch to 16-inch in diameter. The system is currently owned by the City of Alameda, as it does not meet the standards for EBMUD to accept it into their ownership and system. The existing system remains functional and is providing water service to the existing uses within the Project Site. However, this system is deteriorated, requires frequent maintenance and is not considered reliable. The existing water pipelines are commonly not located in existing or proposed street alignments and portions of the system are located underneath existing buildings. Additionally, the existing system is commonly shallow and does not have adequate cover resulting in pipeline breaks and leaks. EBMUD anticipates that there is a significant amount of potable water that is lost and wasted at the Project Site due to undocumented leakage.

In the Executive Summary of the MIP, there was this note:

The water system has been subject to breaks and repairs that are costly and sometimes require that tenants be without water service for up to several days.

Here’s how the MIP proposes to replace the system:

The proposed water distribution system will be owned and operated by EBMUD. The system shall be designed and constructed consistent with EBMUD’s Standard Specifications for Pipelines 20-inches and smaller. The pipeline material for pipelines that are smaller than 12-inches in diameter will be polyvinyl
chloride (PVC). Pipelines that are 12-inches in diameter and larger will be mortar-lined and plastic coated steel. Flexible connections or other flexible designs will be implemented at locations where differential settlement is anticipated.

A new potable water distribution system will be installed within the Development Areas at Alameda Point. The proposed distribution pipelines will connect to the existing EBMUD water facilities in Main Street. The existing water system will be replaced with the existing system in phases consistent with the development build-out. The proposed distribution system will range in size from 8-inch to 16-inch in diameter. The proposed water distribution facilities will be installed within all backbone streets providing reliable potable and fire water to all development parcels within the Development Areas.

The Reuse Areas within Alameda Point initially will continue to utilize the existing potable water distribution system through an enhanced maintenance program. This program will incrementally replace the existing system. These incremental improvements will be coordinated through the City of Alameda and EBMUD to ensure the improvements are implemented orderly and addressing priority areas. The exterior pipeline loop within W. Redline Street, Monarch Street, W. Tower Avenue and Pan Am Street shall be prioritized. This improved loop will provide a more reliable system with adequate water pressure for fire protection within the Reuse Areas. Additionally, each development project within the Reuse Areas will replace the potable and fire water lateral serving that site.

Ultimately, the potable water distribution system within the Reuse Areas will be replaced. The proposed distribution system will be similar to the system proposed within the Development Areas, including new pipelines and appurtenances. The replacement of the potable water system within the Reuse Areas will be completed over time as described in the Phasing and Implementation
Section XIII


And the cost:

Phase 1: $4,760,000
Phase 2: $4,310,000
Phase 3: $5,385,000
Total: $14,455,000




  1. Is there any mention or discussion of using non potable water reclaimed from runoff ( captured off the roofs of the hangers for example, or off the runways /taxiways) or byproduct of industrial uses for firefighting and landscaping?

    Comment by Not A Alamedan — November 24, 2014 @ 6:58 am

  2. I’ll cover the recycled water in another post. TL;dr of the MIP is that there isn’t currently a system in place but the plan is to hook into EMBUD’s existing Recycled Water Project.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 24, 2014 @ 7:34 am

  3. It’s really too bad that the owners of utilities here in the Bay Area have stove-piped themselves off from one another. Many cities in Japan have all their utilities homogenized in one above-ground utility tunnel. This method ameliorates the damage in high groundwater and high earthquake probability areas plus makes initial installation and any needed repair down the road, upgrade or expansion much cheaper. In an industrial setting like Spirit Alley or along the other clusters of hangars or industrial buildings at the Point, they would be a perfect fit.

    Where have all the outside-the-dirt thinkers in this country gone?

    Comment by jack — November 24, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  4. Thanks for the post.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 24, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  5. It’s a reasonable and necessary plan that must be completed before any mass development can occur at the point.

    However, the recycled water element as stated is very problematical unless EBMUD plans to provide a new transmission main under the estuary or convert an exisiting transmission main serving Alameda for that purpose.

    Comment by Lavage10 — November 24, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  6. interesting, Jack I just took a look at some of these tunnels in Japan, it also showed them in Canada and Europe. It sure sounds like this could work here, but I don’t know anything about them other than what you just posted.

    Comment by John P. — November 24, 2014 @ 11:22 am

  7. One of the previous outfits vying for master developer had a gray water system as part of it’s plan. To my knowledge, that recycled water is not piped in from a central collection site by EBMUD, but would be for fresh water which is degraded at the point of primary use. Even on site gray water systems are expensive because they have not been integrated since the inception of common utilities. Same thing for plumbing in solar hot water with retention tanks for integration to existing gas or electric water heaters. Sewage is sewage, but other waste water can be used for watering lawns after a primary purification process.

    #4 and#5, this post is preliminary answer to simple straight forward and unrhetorical question I posed about VA infrastructure for which vigi chose to scoff at me, but neither of you offered an answer. My assumption was that VA would build an infrastructure island at the Point and then have to hook into existing supply lines, but because they are a federal entity, I was curious if there were any important details about the arrangement. It never occurred to me that was discussed at the base transfer ceremony ( rhetorical reference).

    Comment by MI — November 24, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  8. Jack, the only hitch with having above ground conduits are the intersections for roads which would require the conduit to go up or down, or the road to do the same. How does that work?

    Comment by MI — November 24, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

  9. MI: I haven’t looked through this yet, but your answer may be in here. If I can find the time to read it and find your answer I will, but if you want to take a look yourself.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 24, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

  10. Mark, I’m not speaking for vigi but the signal to noise ratio in your # 21 (do nothing Post) was such that it left me shaking my head. Your #7 above is much better and very prescient as well.

    I do not know how the Japanese solve the up/down driveway/utility tunnel puzzle. I think the main benefit is having all normally underground infrastructure all in one tunnel (even if it is underground). Some of the tunnels in Germany are large enough to stand in so it makes repair and inspection much cheaper than having each utility line buried on its own.

    Comment by jack — November 24, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

  11. The public hearings with the VA that I had previously referenced took place last year, at the O Club & on the Hornet. The VA representatives present were very forthcoming and willing to answer questions in detail.

    And the resulting documents are robust. I think they can still be found in the Alameda Library.

    Comment by vigi — November 25, 2014 @ 11:46 am

  12. I composed the comment below this morning and thought I had posted it, but did not. vigi has since posted her links. I’ll pose another question to vigi. You seem to imply insufficient curiosity on my part in the intervening weeks, like I didn’t do my homework. A crime of the first degree for sure. But in your first response to my original question you wrongly assumed my question was a) rhetorical and b) I knew the answer. It is often the case that when somebody does ask a dumb question there are a lot of other uninformed people who would also benefit from a straight answer as a opposed to being brow beaten for their ignorance. Since “people can be unreasonable” gives the impression of being a retired English teacher, or otherwise the gate keeper of civil interaction, it was disturbing to me that she also copped an attitude about my question being rhetorical and took another pot shot at me for general ignorance.

    my post in response to 10 from Jack this a.m. at 8:30:

    “signal to noise ratio”? A radar reference? The comment was damn short so how much noise could that be? Was my reference to do nothing too bias laden ( i.e. noisy) for you to get the basic gist? I have a point of view based on my buying in to the argument that indefinite neglect of infrastructure will make it impossible for tenants like the distillers to remain at the Point. They have written letters saying as much. One might be forgiven for a tendency to forget about the VA because we don’t regularly include them in our discussions about ENA etc. I was simply asking if feds have some sort of clout beyond a private tenant, and if so, what their entitlement might be for continuity of utility services. From reading the link in 9, I don’t perceive any special treatment.

    vigi’s original response about not having observed me at things like the transfer ceremony seemed off the wall, like there is a threshold of participation before one can ask an innocent question. vigi also made no attempt to address my question in her response, and when PCBU piled on, I didn’t get any indication he/she knew more than I did.

    Comment by MI — November 25, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

  13. Unless the Feds will let the city siphon off Red Line Street.

    Comment by jarfree — November 25, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

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