Valley Water joins forces with multi-agency partners to complete emergency repair of the Milpitas Pipeline amidst public health crisis

As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout Santa Clara County in March 2020, Valley Water’s emergency work to repair the Milpitas Pipeline continued, underscoring the importance of essential workers. Requiring a multi-agency coordination to ensure the residents and businesses in north San José and Milpitas have a reliable supply of drinking water, Valley Water along with its local agencies partners — including the City of Milpitas, City of San José, San Jose Water Company, and Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) – joined forces to complete critical repair work to the Milpitas Pipeline.

Valley Water maintenance staff identified a leak on a portion of the Milpitas Pipeline near the intersection of North Capital Avenue and Countrybrook Way in San José, back in February. This critical 3.5-foot diameter high pressure pipeline supplies drinking water to Valley Water’s north San José and Milpitas service areas and is Valley Water’s sole connection to the emergency backup supply from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s intertie facility. The pipeline can transport up to half of east San Jose’s drinking water.

Alongside San Jose Water Company, Valley Water staff conducted detection tests to identify the source of the leak. Valley Water then began the process of obtaining the necessary permits for the repair work from the City of San José. VTA authorized the use of their property adjacent from the pipeline worksite for the staging of equipment. Valley Water’s procurement team was involved in the process of establishing a construction contract for the repair work. Working with the City of Milpitas to isolate the pipeline in order to confirm the job could be completed, staff began the physical repair work when all the logistics were nailed down.

The pipeline repair work began in mid-April, with the safety of onsite workers top of mind, crews adhered to the county health’s social distancing guidelines. Custom made materials were fabricated in-house to reduce outage time. Repair work included excavating, large trench box shoring, patching, testing to ensure the safety of the pipeline, and disinfection of the pipeline, followed by restoring of the roadway – the pipe is 10 feet below the surface on a busy road.

Maintenance crews worked onsite for extended hours and days to expedite the repair. It took workers about a week to conclude the effort. Valley Water is glad to share that at the end of April, the Milpitas Pipeline was successfully repaired, having passed water quality testing.

By early May, Valley Water had returned to routine business, with the City of Milpitas having resumed taking treated water deliveries from the pipeline. The remaining effort to restore the roadway is underway.

“Because of our outstanding working relationships within our agency, our contractor and the various local stakeholders, we were able to join forces and move quickly to ensure there was minimal disruption to the community,” said Valley Water Board Director Richard P. Santos of District 3.

This critical work was a massive coordinated effort agency-wide and with several local stakeholders during this public health crisis. Valley Water is dedicated to providing Santa Clara County a safe reliable supply of water. We are committed to maintaining a high level of service and continue to deliver a reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water to residents and businesses in Santa Clara County.

We appreciate the critical work and support in making this emergency repair a success. For any further questions, please contact Aaron Baker at (408) 472-3992.

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