Pipelines are in road right of way
By Karen Brainard
The San Vicente Road improvement project will cost Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) about $3.8 million to relocate water mains.
To pay for that, customers could see a water rate increase next year, RMWD Assistant General Manager David Barnum told the board at its July 12 meeting.
The county road project, currently in the design phase, will widen 2.25 miles of San Vicente Road to improve the vertical and horizontal sight distance between Warnock Drive and just east of Wildcat Canyon Road. The two-year construction phase is scheduled to begin in April 2013.
The improvements are a Ramona Community Planning Group priority project to “try to mitigate some of the accidents that occur out there,” said RMWD Engineer Philip Dauben.
Along that stretch of San Vicente Road, RMWD has water mains that provide the sole source of water to about 3,100 customers in San Diego Country Estates. About 6,040 feet of pipeline will need to be relocated.
Dauben explained to the board that state law allowed the installation of RMWD pipelines within county right of way in 1973. There is a caveat under the law, however.
“The requirement is we have to pay to relocate our facilities when they make those improvements,” said Dauben.
The county gave RMWD directors two alternatives. One was to relocate only portions of the pipeline alignments, at an estimate of $1.3 million. Another was to relocate all the pipeline alignments at approximately $3.85 million.
RMWD staff recommended the more expensive alternative because of the benefits to the district, and the board agreed.
Because the water line is 38 years old and the service life is estimated at 50 years, RMWD staff said the district would have to replace portions in 10 to 12 years and would duplicate excavation and other costs.
By partnering with the county, Barnum said, the water district will save millions for such requirements as CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), traffic control, construction management, bonding, mobilization and insurance.
With the more expensive alternative, the county is anticipated to fund approximately $1.3 million that will be reimbursed by RMWD through an agreement that is being negotiated, according to staff. Barnum said the remaining balance of about $2.5 million will have to be financed by RMWD and the water district will probably have to increase water rates by 5 to 10 percent in a future fiscal year to pay for the debt.
Such an increase would be in addition to any increases from the County Water Authority, San Diego Gas and Electric and other rate increases necessary to maintain and operate the water district, staff noted in its agenda memo.
The San Vicente Road project will have no impact on RMWD’s sewer lines.