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WOBURN, MASS., AND SACRAMENTO, CALIF.—The San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) named the Coachella Canal Lining Project 2007 Project of the Year. The Coachella Canal Lining Project is a substantial accomplishment in meeting a goal of the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement to conserve Colorado River water. Prior to lining the last remaining earthen section of the canal with concrete, approximately 26,000 acre-feet of water seeped through the canal annually. Now, instead of losing water through seepage, the conserved water is conveyed to San Diego for use.

The Coachella Canal, located near the California/Mexico border, conveys about 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water annually.

"Water conservation, and the efficient use of water, is an important issue to California and all the other Colorado River Basin states," said Wayne Dahl, Western regional water manager for GEI Consultants, Inc., and engineer-of-record for the project. "Winning this award highlights the exceptional cooperation and resourcefulness demonstrated by the project partners to complete the project on schedule with no interruption of water deliveries to Coachella Valley growers." As part of a multi-firm team, GEI provided design, construction management, and construction support services for the project.

The Coachella Valley Water District, the operator of the canal, was able to convey normal water deliveries during construction because the water never stopped flowing. The project team achieved this feat by constructing a new, concrete-lined canal parallel to the old canal within the same right-of-way.
"The Coachella Valley Water District is pleased to receive such a prestigious award," said Dan Charlton, project manager for the Coachella Valley Water District. "The canal system has been serving Colorado River Water to the Coachella Valley for over 60 years, and this construction implementation will help secure the conveyance into the future."

The Coachella Canal is a branch from the All-American Canal, located near the California/Mexico border, and extends 123 miles northwest. The canal conveys about 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, primarily for agricultural use. The $119.7 million Coachella Canal Lining Project includes a 36.5-mile concrete-lined canal, 25 inverted siphon undercrossings, one railroad crossing, six check structures, a maintenance road built from excess excavation material, and a variety of consequential environmental mitigation measures, such as development of a 17-acre managed marsh, maintenance of the Dos Palmas aquatic habitat, maintenance of 325 acres of desert habitat, tree replacement, installation of animal fencing and drinking facilities, and fishery mitigation.

The Project of the Year award was presented to the entire project team at the ASCE-San Diego Section Annual Awards Ceremony in May. The team comprises the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources, San Diego County Water Authority, Coachella Valley Water District, MWH Americas, GEI Consultants, R&L Brosamer, Harvey Consulting Group, Landmark, AMEC Earth and Environmental, ASM Affiliates, and R.W. Beck.