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FAQs Related to Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project


How can I get additional information about the Emergency Water Supply Wells Project? 
- Email us at:
- Call or fax the Utilities Department: Phone 650-566-4504, FAX 650-566-4536

What is the Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project?

The Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project proposes the construction of a new underground 2.5 million gallon reservoir and well beneath El Camino Park, and the replacement of the existing pump station already located at the park. The project will also construct two new wells at the City’s Community Gardens and Eleanor Pardee Park and rebuild five existing wells:

1. Hale Well on Palo Alto Avenue at Hale Street,

2. Rinconada Well on Hopkins Avenue near Cedar Street,

3. Peers Well on Park Boulevard at Stanford Avenue,

4. Fernando Well on Fernando Avenue near Orinda Street, and

5. Matadero Well on Matadero Avenue near Whitsell.

Mayfield Reservoir Pump Station, on Stanford Avenue at Nixon School, will also be rebuilt to supply more emergency water to South Palo Alto for the City. After the completion of construction, park facilities that were disrupted during construction will be fully restored to current conditions. During construction, alternative facilities will be provided within the City for similar recreational uses. 

What is the purpose of the Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project?
The Hetch Hetchy aqueduct system is the City’s primary water source. The California Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that the City of Palo Alto have sufficient capacity in its water storage reservoirs and/or water wells to supply its customers with enough water to meet emergency and normal use demands should the Hetch Hetchy supply be interrupted. In order to address this problem the City plans to construct the Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project to provide for emergency water needs in the event of an extended service interruption of the Hetch Hetchy system. Should a complete shutdown of connections to the City’s Hetch Hetchy water supplies become protracted, the project, in conjunction with extensive water conservation by water users, will have the ability to meet a basic level of water service citywide. 

How much will the Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project facilities cost, and how will it be funded?
The total project cost for the reservoir, new wells and rehabilitation of the existing wells and of the existing Mayfield Pump Station, is estimated at $40 million dollars. A portion of the funds for the project is in the City's Capital Improvements Project. Additional funding will be obtained by issuing revenue bonds to be repaid through water utility revenues. 

How was the El Camino Park location for the new reservoir, pump station, and well selected?
After initially evaluating seven potential sites for a new reservoir in Palo Alto, using feedback from focus group meetings and information from City of Palo Alto Utilities staff, the City Council approved four sites for further consideration in the Environment Impact Report (EIR) process — El Camino Park, Town and Country Center and two near the Stanford Shopping Center — for the new reservoir, well and pump station. These sites appeared to be viable due to many factors such as the geographical location and elevation, proximity to existing water lines, and ability to accommodate an underground reservoir, well, and pump station. On March 5 th 2007, after evaluating the Final EIR, the recommendation of the Planning and Transportation Commission, and various staff reports, the City Council certified the Final EIR and approved El Camino Park, in concept, for the location of the new reservoir, pump station and well. 

What makes El Camino Park the City's preferred location for the underground reservoir, pump station, and well?
The existing Lytton Station supplies water to Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford West housing, a portion of the Stanford Medical Center and the University Avenue downtown area. These areas were identified as needing additional water storage for fire suppression and for short-term emergency demand. The El Camino Park location has several advantages compared to the other sites considered. These include lower construction costs, the avoidance of disruption or displacement of existing residences and businesses, and the fact that no additional land will be needed for the new pump station. See the November Ballot Measure page for more information about locating the reservoir beneath El Camino Park. 

How long will it take to construct the reservoir?
The El Camino Park reservoir, pump station and well will take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete. During construction approximately four acres of El Camino Park will be unavailable. City staff will relocate park activities during construction. 

What will I see after the reservoir, pump station and on-site well are constructed?
The 2.5 million gallon reservoir will be constructed completely underground and the property restored after construction. There will be minimal surface features protruding above the underground reservoir. Surface features will include access hatches and an above ground venting structure that will be hidden or buried in the landscaping. The new pump station will be mainly under ground, with an above-ground building that will stay within the footprint of the existing Lytton Turnout building. The pump station building will be designed to blend with the setting and to minimize noise. Other surface structures, such as access hatches and vents, will be incorporated into the existing fenced area of the Lytton Turnout as much as possible. Once construction is complete, the property above the reservoir will be restored to pre-construction conditions and playing field and parkland uses will resume. Park restoration will include: complete in-kind restoration of playing fields, replacement of existing structures such as bleachers and backstops, and restoration of landscaping and parking lot replacement. 

Why is the existing Mayfield Pump Station being upgraded?
The upgrades to the Mayfield Pump Station will boost pumping capacity, allowing the City to supply maximum day demands plus fire flows to the area roughly southeast of Page Mill Road, southwest of El Camino Real and northeast of Foothill Expressway. 

What sites were under consideration for the new wells?
The Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project includes construction of up to three new wells. Ten potential well sites were evaluated in the EIR, including the four new reservoir sites and six other sites - Eleanor Pardee Park, Library/Community Center, Heritage Park, Middlefield, Downtown Parking Lots and California Avenue Parking Lots - were evaluated for the wells only. One new well will be located at the new El Camino Park reservoir site. In addition to the new wells, the EIR evaluated sites for rehabilitation of five existing City wells - Hale, Rinconada Park, Fernando, Peers Park and Matadero. The reservoir and well sites evaluated in the EIR are shown in Figure 2-2 of the Draft EIR (PDF). 

Who will benefit from the new reservoir and wells?
All customers of the City of Palo Alto’s water utility will benefit from the emergency water storage project because the project will allow the City to meet increased water demands in the event of an emergency, and will supply the City with a basic level of water service in the event of a sustained interruption of the Hetch Hetchy water supply. 

Will there be an impact from the wells, once they're operational?
When the wells are operating, the well pump and motor will produce noise that can be heard from nearby properties. Since the wells are standby emergency water sources to be used only when the Hetch Hetchy water supply is reduced, the noise will be infrequent and temporary. The City’s existing operational standby wells at Hale, Rinconada and Peers Park are all in residential areas. City work crews periodically visit the well sites to inspect the equipment and perform routine maintenance. Noise during these maintenance visits should be negligible. Once a month the crews briefly operate each well to flush the well and verify proper operation of the equipment. 

Will there be any disruption from noise or work crews once the reservoir, well, and pump station are constructed?
Once built, there should be minimal noise from the operation and maintenance of the reservoir and pump station. The new facilities will be designed so that routine operation and maintenance can be accomplished without disrupting nearby facilities.

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