Bay Area water system upgrade underway


Miles of new water pipes are going to be installed underground throughout the Bay Area -- improving delivery of Hetch-Hetchy water and at the same time bringing new jobs to the region.

The Hetch-Hetchy water system needs an upgrade -- it's been operating since 1934, delivering 239 million gallons of water daily to multiple Bay Area cities.

The region's aging water system, which is maintained by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is now kicking-off the first phase of three major water infrastructure projects. It's all part of a larger $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program -- this trio of projects will build new bay pipelines and a first tunnel under the bay.

Local counties and cities are also pleased that it's stimulating the economy by creating an estimated million-plus hours of various construction work for thousands of people. This is expected to generate about $90 million in wages and benefits.

"It brings a lot of construction jobs, and that's good. People are working and they're spending money, if not here, then at least somewhere and the economy is improving. It's not like it's going to bring in a lot of forever jobs, but it's still jobs and it's important," said Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman.

Construction has already begun on a new seven mile East Bay pipeline through Fremont and Newark -- this is the first of the three water system upgrades; the others will be a five mile tunnel under San Francisco Bay and a 9 mile pipeline on the Peninsula.

The funding of these projects comes from a bond approved in 2002 by water customers.

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