MEETING NOTES: Desert groundwater agency approves bids for initial work on a 50-mile pipeline to import water

January 19, 2024
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
by Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water

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* “Meeting Notes” is a new feature focused on Kern County water districts, funded through a grant from the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Please consider supporting SJV Water to continue this important coverage.

Meeting: Indian WellsValley Groundwater Authority board of directors

Date: January 10, 2024

Agenda and Packet: CLICK HERE

Major topics: Imported Water Pipeline and Request for Bids for Utility Potholing for Imported Water Pipeline 

Background: The Indian Wells Valley in eastern Kern County is critically overdrafted with only 7,600 acre feet of natural water inflow every year and 28,000 acre feet of annual demand. In order to bring the aquifer back into balance under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the groundwater agency has opted to buy water and pipe it up to the valley. To do that, it plans to extend an existing line owned by the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency in California City.

Details: Stetson Engineers Inc. and Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group (P&P) presented the release of request for bids for the utility potholing services for the imported water pipeline.

The Imported Water Pipeline Project includes 50.3 miles of pipeline, three pump stations, two forebay tanks and a regulating tank. 

P&P recommended the board hire a contractor to do minor excavations, known as potholing, to verify the location and size of existing underground utilities and structures. They would be potholing 20 locations for an estimated cost of $50,000.

The recommendation was questioned by board member Chuck Griffin. He believed the cost estimate was too low for 20 locations and it would end up costing the authority more. Additionally, he felt that awarding the potholing contract was premature since the project has not been approved. 

“To spend the money right now is just a waste of taxpayer, and our, money,” said Griffin.

P& Presponded that field verification of existing utilities during design could avoid costly contractor change orders during construction.

Griffin questioned if those costs could be avoided by calling in a USA underground ticket to get the alignment. P&P responded that it has called USA underground, but records aren’t current.

P&P stated the current action would simply be to approve a release for bids, not authorize any actual work yet. The bids would allow the board to gather and evaluate contractor prices and then make a decision on the work.

Board Action: The board approved the motion to authorize release of request for bids for utility potholing services for the Imported Water Pipeline, with Griffin voting no.

Report: Steve Johnson from, Stetson Engineers also reported that Stetson will be submitting a preliminary design report on the Imported Water Pipeline to the Department of Water Resources by March. They are working with P&P to finalize the design and have it go through internal review. 

Johnson and his team will also begin geotechnical and biological monitoring on Bureau of Land Management lands in January 2024.

How to attend: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets at 11 a.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Ridge Crest City Hall located at 100 W California Ave., Ridgecrest. You can also watch online via their Youtube channel Live Stream.

Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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