The Engineering News-Record magazine has announced the best construction projects in 20 specialized categories per region in the U.S. Among them is Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Penitencia Delivery Main/Force Main Seismic Retrofit Project, awarded “Best Project” in the category of Water/Environment in Northern California.

This seismic retrofit project replaced large sections of about 835 feet on three large pipelines at the Penitencia Water Treatment Plant in east San José. The Penitencia Water Treatment Plant is on a slow-moving landslide, with average movement of about one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch each year. In the past, landslide activity caused these pipelines to fail, resulting in damages and flooding. An additional seismic threat is the Hayward Fault which runs just about 1.2 miles east of the plant.

The vulnerable pipelines replaced include the Penitencia Delivery Main, Penitencia Force Main, and a segment of the South Bay Aqueduct. These pipelines deliver untreated water to the plant and treated water to water retailers and ultimately residents. To better secure our water supply and service in the event of an earthquake, these pipes were replaced with Earthquake Resistant Ductile Iron Pipe. This material allows for the pipes to expand, contract and bend with land movements, without breaking or leaking.  It is also widely used in the islands of Japan, which experience frequent seismic activity.

The Penitencia Delivery Main/Force Main Seismic Retrofit Project was the first project of its kind in the U.S. with a pipeline this large in diameter.  With a lifespan of 50 years or greater, these pipelines will help to secure the delivery of safe, clean water to the residents of Santa Clara County for years to come. The water district is proud and honored for this acknowledgment. This seismic retrofit project demonstrates our commitment to pursue smart investments and innovative technologies to ensure a reliable water supply.

According to Engineering News-Record, industry leaders in design and construction from each region served as judges and reviewed more than 100 projects throughout California and Hawaii. Judges evaluated projects based on five criteria: the ability of the project team to overcome challenges, contribution to industry and community, safety and construction, and design quality. The projects will be honored at formal events in both northern and southern California and announced in October, where judges will designate an overall “Project of the Year” for each region.

Wish us luck!

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