The city of American Canyon focuses on innovative solutions to manage its public works infrastructure while ensuring sustainability for future generations. Since 2007, the city has maintained a Zero Water Footprint (ZWF) policy to help achieve water conservation goals. Two events in 2015 prompted the city to create a partnership to complete its pipe bursting project. The Coca-Cola Company, the city’s largest customer, had a contract up for renewal and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency (Executive Order B2915) related to the ongoing statewide drought. The partnership created between American Canyon’s Public Works Department and Coca-Cola resulted in a renewed service agreement that provides the city with financial stability for years to come. In conjunction with the new agreement, the parties completed a “community water partnership project.” The project included replacing the 7,000 feet of existing pipeline that had begun severely leaking in numerous locations (totaling upwards of 200 gallons per minute).

American Canyon’s ZWF policy requires that any new or additional demands to the city’s water system — whether residential, business, commercial or agricultural — offset their planned water usage on a 1:1 basis. The policy also includes addressing existing, deficient infrastructure (including leaking waterlines) that has surpassed its useful life.

The Coca-Cola Company has operated a 350,000 square foot facility in American Canyon since 1994. Its contract with the city came up for renewal for the first time in 2015. The American Canyon facility employs more than 500 people and produces more than 100,000,000 gallons of non-carbonated beverages each year (approximately 288 acre-feet in 2015).

Facing consecutive years of drought, American Canyon implemented numerous strategies to conserve water. Shortly after the Governor declared a drought emergency in April 2015, the American Canyon City Council adopted Emergency Regulations by the State Water Resources Control Board and local water use restrictions. At the outset of the agreement renewal process in spring 2015, city staff explained both the ZWF policy and the forthcoming local water use restrictions Coca-Cola representatives. Although renewal of the agreement was not subject to the ZWF policy (because no increase in demands were sought) the company expressed interest in helping the city improve the sustainability of its water supply, which is consistent with the company’s corporate water replenishment goal to replenish supplies used at their facilities worldwide on a 1:1 basis by the year 2020.

American Canyon employs prudent water use restrictions, tiered water consumption rates and has expanded its recycled water infrastructure (to replace nonessential potable water uses wherever possible). The city also intensified its leak detection and repair program, and was facing the most ambitious and challenging project replacement of 7,000 feet of 14-inch steel transmission pipeline to stop major water leakage.

The project between American Canyon and Coca-Cola faced a number of challenges:

  • Funding was needed to complete the project;
  • Planning logistics was important in order to insure drivers’ safety;
  • Scheduling and timelines were vital to completing the project efficiently; and
  • Obtaining approvals from Caltrans and various resource agencies to ensure that construction could begin in late fall 2015.

The pipeline was located within the cavity of the old pipeline that serves both the facility and the city as a whole. The city had never previously used the “pipe bursting” method to repair leaking waterlines but decided to employ it to quickly and efficiently eliminate the leaks with minimal impact to existing customers, motorists (on the adjacent roadway) and the environment. Pipe bursting is a state-of-the-art, trenchless construction method to replace pipelines. The process works by fracturing the old pipe from the inside while simultaneously pulling a new pipe inside the cavity that has been created. The city oversaw construction which started in late September 2015.

The city maintains an ongoing, open dialogue with its large customers, including Coca-Cola, about its water supply situation. The business community is engaged through biweekly city manager updates and lunchtime workshops held jointly with the Chamber of Commerce on a quarterly basis. This regular community engagement was critical to disseminating accurate information during the drought emergency. It also built trust and faith amongst these business leaders that city officials are proactively addressing the city’s water supply situation and as a result, building a unique public-private partnership with Coca-Cola which provided financial resources to help the city replenish its water supply.

The city also obtained permits from Caltrans and the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the project. These permits often take months (or years) to obtain approval; however, due to the statewide drought emergency the city was able to fast track the permitting process. This was accomplished by engaging the agencies early in the planning process (June 2015) and working collaboratively with their representatives to identify a streamlined permitting process that would allow for construction to begin in October 2015. The city explained to the agencies that the most appropriate best practices would be utilized in order to mitigate any potential concerns, including hiring a biologist to monitor the site for potential biological resources throughout the duration of construction. In addition, the city placed advanced construction area warning signs and provided continuous onsite inspection and monitoring of traffic conditions. The financing allowed American Canyon to reserve its Water Fund reserves, ensuring that the city’s General Fund does not need to subsidize the project.

Work was completed in mid-January 2016. On Feb. 2, 2016, the city approved the renewal agreement with Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola committed to fund 100 percent of the project at a cost of $1,500,000.

The project resulted in a reduction of 200 to 300 acre-feet of water pumped by the State Water Project from the Delta to American Canyon with multifaceted environmental benefits. For example, the reduction in pumping will translate into an energy saving of approximately 60,000 kWh each year, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production. It also aligns with the conservation goals outlined in California’s State Wildlife Action Plan to improve conservation and restoration of habitat for 22 endangered species, including the Salt Harvest Mouse and Delta Smelt by reducing water exports from the Delta. Allowing this water to remain in the Delta (instead being pumped to American Canyon, only to be lost as leak) maximizes the effort to protect and restore critical habitat.

American Canyon has successfully improved its public works infrastructure and water delivery by adapting a sustainable procedure to address a longstanding issue.

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Originally posted at the League of California Cities.