City replacing water mains along S. Green Valley Road

Ruben Escobar of City of Watsonville Public Works helps muscle a 20-inch water pipe off of a flatbed truck Tuesday on South Green Valley Road near Freedom Boulevard. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — City workers are in the midst of a project to replace aging water main pipes that run under South Green Valley Road, a project that is expected to wrap up by the end of June.

The project began on South Green Valley Road near the Home Depot store, and ends at Freedom Boulevard. Phase two of that project will occur at night, when workers will replace water pipes under that intersection, said Watsonville Water Service Manager Steve Hernandez.

The project will continue up South Green Valley Road to Stewart Avenue after that finishes, Hernandez said.

Watsonville operates 176 miles of water lines – no easy task in Pajaro Valley’s acidic soil – which wreak havoc on metal pipes, Hernandez said.

He pointed to a study comparing soils around the world, which showed that Everglades, Fla. and Watsonville share the title of having the most corrosive soil in the nation.

“We want to make sure our pipes are going to stand the test of time,” he said. “Everything grows here, but it also eats a lot of stuff up too.”

The city is therefore using zinc-coated ductile iron pipe which, while more expensive than other types of water pipes, is now industry standard for jurisdictions performing similar projects, Hernandez said. He added that Watsonville is the first city in California to use them, and the second in the nation.

“We basically pushed the envelope on that one,” he said.

According to Hernandez, Watsonville is saving money by using its own staff to perform the work.

While it can cost as much as $250-350 per foot to hire a contractor, the city pays about $145 per foot by using its own workers, Hernandez said.

“There is a huge savings, and we’re not trying to make a profit,” he said. “We’re trying to save money.”

A sewer line project slated to start later in the summer will run from Airport Boulevard down Freedom Boulevard and Carey Avenue.

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Steve Hernandez, Water Service manager, keeps a water main repair project safe on Progress Avenue. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

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