LAKESIDE (CNS) - The San Diego County Water Authority dedicated an 11-mile pipeline Wednesday that will help deliver water in an emergency.
The San Vicente Pipeline -- 8 1/2 feet in diameter -- is part of the agency's $1.5 billion emergency storage project. The goal is to store up to six months of water for use in case of an earthquake or another disaster that interrupts normal supplies.
The line runs from Mira Mesa to Lakeside, ending at the San Vicente Reservoir, which is closed while the dam is raised by 117 feet.
"Completion of the San Vicente Pipeline marks another major step forward for the region's long-term water reliability," water authority Chairman Michael Hogan said. "This new pipeline provides greater flexibility for how the water authority can store and move water around the county."
The pipeline can move up to 200,000 gallons per minute.
Construction began in 2005 at four locations along the route. Instead of digging trenches, crews used tunneling machines to install the pipe in an effort to minimize disruptions along its course.
Three giant machines worked around the clock on different sections of the tunnel. In September 2009, a tunneling machine broke through a final stretch of rock near the midpoint of the tunnel.
Crews then lowered 17-ton, 50-foot sections of steel pipe into the tunnel and moved them -- often for several miles -- into position.
Nearly 1,150 pipe sections were linked, and testing was completed last month.
The emergency storage project also includes a pipeline and dam in Olivenhain, and a pipeline from Olivenhain to Lake Hodges.
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