Carmichael Water District  |  Carmichael, CA

American River Pipeline

Conveyance Project

Length of Pipeline
7,400 FT
In Length
Size of Pipeline
24 IN
in Diameter
Construction Value
$5.3 MIL
In Construction Cost

The American River Pipeline Project is an outstanding example of (the Department of Water Resources) commitment to addressing California’s water challenges with Integrated Regional Water Management where partnerships, like this one, are formed to work together to develop solutions which will both address drought challenges and long-term water reliability.

— Gary Bardini, Deputy Director for Integrated Water Management, California Department of Water Resources

Regional collaboration united two public agencies, a private aerospace business entity, and a consulting engineering firm (the Project Execution Team), to create a replacement water supply and fund the conveyance project for reliable, high-quality drinking water.

Conceived in 2011, the American River Pipeline Conveyance Project (Project) puts into action Integrated Regional Water Management agreements and resolutions that successfully solve water supply reliability issues at a local level. The Project was developed to provide a replacement water supply for Golden State Water Company’s (GSWC) customers in Gold River and parts of the City of Rancho Cordova where supplies were lost due to groundwater contamination. Additionally, the project provides improved drought reliability for Carmichael Water District (CWD). Utilizing existing treatment capacity at CWD’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP), the project enables CWD to divert and deliver up to 4.5 million gallons of water per day (MGD). The replacement water supply originates from the remediated Aerojet Rocketdyne (Aerojet) groundwater discharged to the American River at Buffalo Creek. Additionally, the project provides improved drought reliability for CWD.

CWD retained KJ Consultants (KJ) to provide project conceptualization services, design services, and engineering services during construction for the Project.

Project elements include:

  • Approximately 7,400 feet of 24-inch diameter pipeline crossing the American River.
  • The river crossing occurred approximately 80 feet below the riverbed utilizing a pressure drilling method in order to leave the riverbed and channel undisturbed.
  • Utilization of existing capacity in CWD’s WTP made available through irrigation reuse of nonpotable water, aggressive infrastructure repair, leak detection, water loss management, and an effective water efficiency program that has created a water-efficient mindset within the Carmichael community.
  • Improved management of the underlying groundwater basin through conjunctive use.
  • Securing of emergency pump back capabilities to provide water to CWD from GSWC during emergency conditions.

The project design left the river bed and channel undisturbed and restored the riverbank to a natural setting.

The Project utilized horizontal directional drilling techniques and trenchless technologies to construct a segment of the pipeline some 80 feet below the river channel. This required bringing in geotechnical engineering and horizontal directional drilling expertise that has not traditionally been required in the region.

horizontal drilling rig
A horizontal drilling rig was used to drill underneath the American River for new conveyance pipeline installation. The new pipeline was pulled underneath the river into place from the other side of the river.

During restoration, extensive work was required in the riverbed itself and in the adjacent riverbanks. This required adding fishery and terrestrial biologist expertise to the team to minimize impacts and ensure that resulting restoration would achieve positive results.

To ensure effective collaboration with the environmental community in Project development and implementation, the team consulted with the Water Forum, the Friends of the River, the American River Foundation Board, and the Save the American River Association.

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