The Rainbow Municipal Water District board held a special meeting Dec. 19, 2023, and a 5-0 vote approved a contract with Pacific Hydrotech Corporation to replace the West Lilac, Rancho Amigos, and Dentro De Lomas pump stations.
Pacific Hydrotech, which is headquartered in Perris, was awarded a contract for $5,657,500. The board action also approved an addendum to the Programmatic Environmental Report to cover the Rancho Amigos Pump Station while authorizing a notice of exemption for the other two stations which were previously analyzed.
“We can’t reliably detach until these pumps are in,” said Rainbow board president Hayden Hamilton. “They’re obviously needed.”
The San Diego County Water Authority's Second Aqueduct is just west of Interstate 15. The SDCWA annually shuts down portions of the Second Aqueduct for inspection and maintenance as does the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The CWA takes over operation of the aqueduct from MWD approximately six miles south of the Riverside County border. During those shutdowns Rainbow rents, installs, and operates temporary pump stations in up to four locations to supply water to the Hutton, Turner, and Gopher Canyon tanks. The temporary pump stations Rainbow rents create noise as well as expense.
The Robert A. Weese Filtration Plant is owned by the City of Oceanside and operated by Oceanside's Water Utilities Department but is physically located in the Rainbow service area off of Silverleaf Lane in the Gopher Canyon area.
In August 2017, the Rainbow board authorized district staff to proceed with the design for an interconnection to the Weese Filtration Plant. The eventual design contract included the replacement of the pumps which supply the Hutton and Turner tanks. The Hutton Pump Station is in the 7200 block of West Lilac Road and the Turner Pump Station is in the 31200 block of Rancho Amigos Road.
Four of Rainbow's eight connections to the aqueduct are from MWD rather than from the CWA, and during the design of the interconnection project, Rainbow decided that regular use of the pumps to move water from the Morro Zone to the south zones would allow Rainbow to save money by using the MWD connections even when the CWA portion of the aqueduct is operational.
The opportunity to take water directly from MWD connections led to the proposal for Rainbow and the Fallbrook Public Utility District to detach from the CWA and obtain water from the Eastern Municipal Water District, which is an MWD member, at a lower price.
On July 10, 2023, San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission approved a reorganization in which Rainbow and FPUD would detach from the CWA and join the Eastern contingent upon approval by the Rainbow and FPUD voters. The voters of both districts overwhelmingly approved the reorganization Nov. 7.
After the LAFCO decision, the CWA filed a lawsuit against LAFCO, FPUD, and Rainbow. The four agencies agreed to a settlement Dec. 21. All but one of FPUD's connections are from MWD pipelines rather than from CWA pipelines, so FPUD already had the infrastructure to obtain all of the district’s imported water from north of the delivery pint and FPUD’s detachment from the CWA and annexation to Eastern became effective Jan. 1.
The Rainbow detachment will be completed after pump stations allow all Rainbow water to be taken from turnouts north of the MWD/CWA boundary.
“The sooner we can get this installed, the sooner we can reliably detach from the Water Authority,” Hamilton said.
In January 2021, Hoch Consulting, which is headquartered in Oceanside, was awarded the Rainbow contract to design the Hutton and Turner pump stations. The temporary pumps also require fueling, so permanent pump stations will also reduce the risk of a fuel leak or spill. The Hoch design work included general site layout, structural foundation, connection details, integration with Rainbow's supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, and site valving.
During the design of the two pump stations, the project team determined that the design criteria did not include all information needed to model the demands in Rainbow’s southern zone. Hoch and Rainbow staff proposed a macro approach to Rainbow’s comprehensive hydraulic model to determine the sizing of the Hutton and Turner pump stations.
Due to Turner Pump Station infrastructure limitations, it was proposed to shrink the Turner Zone, expand the Hutton Zone, and create the Dentro De Lomas Pump Station in the 1900 block of Dentro De Lomas.
An August 2022 Rainbow board action approved a change order adding the scope of services necessary for the third pump station, extended the contract end date, and found that the design portion of the project was not subject to California Environmental Quality Act review. The design plans were completed in August 2023.
Rainbow staff issued a bid advertisement to construct the three pump stations on Sept. 14, 2023. Three bids were opened Oct. 26. Pacific Hydrotech bid the lowest amount at $5,657,500. SCW Contracting, which is in the town of Rainbow, submitted the second-lowest bid of $6,105,831.
The replacements of the Hutton and Dentro De Lomas pump stations involve replacement of existing facilities with no or negligible expansion of capacity. In August 2022, the Rainbow board certified the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report and the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program for the district’s Water and Sewer Facilities Plan which includes 28 water system projects, 10 sewer system projects, maintenance activities, and 400 miles of pipelines. The PEIR covers cumulative impacts, and individual projects may have impacts not included in the PEIR.
Helix Environmental Planning, Inc., which is based in La Mesa, prepared an addendum to the PEIR to cover the Rancho Amigos project. “We realized that we needed to cross our T’s and dot our I’s,” Hamilton said.