Although Rinconada survived the mega rumbling of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake with only minor damage to its clarifiers, a 2005 Water Infrastructure Reliability report on the water district’s entire water infrastructure, including the plant’s operations building, suggests it may not get that lucky next time.
A 2012 follow up study showed the 46-year-old building may not withstand a powerful quake and that major damages could prevent the plant from treating water, a troubling scenario because Rinconada is the sole provider of drinking water to the west side of Santa Clara County.
This month, the water district launches an effort to shore up the building where staff monitor and controls every phase of the treatment process and the district’s raw water delivery systems. Losing raw water operations would have a huge impact on the water district, while treated water operations oversee the West pipeline and its turnouts and the More Avenue and Rinconada reservoirs.
The work will include new concrete walls and reinforcement of existing floors. The district expects the project to take about 22 months, with the majority of the construction taking place during normal business hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents near the plant may see some additional truck traffic and while some concrete demolition will take place on the outside of the building, most of the work will occur within the existing building. This will help minimize any potential noise.
Though not part of the Reliability Improvement Project, which is currently in design phase, the water district views the retrofitting as a major improvement at the plant. Timely completion of the retrofit will enable the larger project to meet its target to break ground next summer.
– Tony Mercado
SCVWD Neighborhood Liaison