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September 27, 2023

College Lake water pipeline project moving forward

One mile of the College Lake Pipeline Project in Watsonville has now been completed, with five miles to go. 

The project calls for six miles of 30-inch water main to transport treated water from a new College Lake facility on Holohan Road to more than 5,000 acres of farmland via the Coastal Distribution System already in place.

With construction launched in spring, and a completion goal projected to take 22 months, huge strides are now underway to place the hefty pipe underground, beneath highways, through farmlands and around neighborhoods.

Marcus Mendiola, water conservation and outreach specialist with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PVWMA) said updates include: 

• The construction company is working on College Road, Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm, and along private farm roads off Lakeside Road, a closure that will run through the end of September; College Road remains open to residents who live on or directly off College Road.

• Another 4,000 feet of pipeline has been fused, and is ready for installation.

• Each section of the 30-inch pipeline requires approximately two hours and 45 minutes to fuse together under many hundreds of pounds of pressure (over 500 PSI) and temperature.

• All six miles of the pipeline has been delivered to the Pajaro Valley, in 40-foot-long sections.

• Tunneling under Highway 1 has begun. A crew has already bored a tunnel under Highway 129 (near Salsipuedes Bridge across Bridge Street from the Buddhist Temple).

• “Pot holing” and location efforts before pipeline construction is also occurring on Highway 129 (Riverside Drive), anticipated to be completed in another six weeks.

• New weir and pump station construction at College Lake is still in the excavation phase. 

• On Tuesday, at the Water Treatment Plant location along Holohan Road, the installation of concrete piles began and will continue over the next several weeks. There are more than 100 piles to install. Pile driving will be loud and will be heard around the community with work typically running between 6am and 6pm.

“PV Water thanks our community for their support of this project and for patience during construction,” Mendiola said. “This project has many benefits to the Pajaro Valley, diversifying the Pajaro Valley’s water sources by decreasing dependance and use of groundwater.”

Other benefits include improving fish passage for the endangered South-Central California Coast Steelhead, maintaining habitat for waterfowl and supporting food production and the agricultural economy of the valley. 

PVWMA General Manager Brian Lockwood said the board awarded two contracts to Mountain Cascade, Inc., which submitted the lowest responsive bid for each project component: the College Lake Water Treatment Plant and Intake Facilities Project for $44,989,854, and the College Lake Pipeline Project for $23,707,310.

College Lake Pipeline Project
On Lakeview Road these workers are busy with placing lengths of pipe underground as part of the College Lake Water Supply Project. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


  1. 12 hours a day of concrete piling installation is giving me a headache! Several more weeks?? With NO FLOOD CONTROL for those of us living next to this, now just taking the water and giving it to those who have created the problem. Corporate Welfare at it’s finest.

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