OCWD continues infrastructure investment

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Are you one of the many Anaheim residents who walk, run, or bike at Anaheim Coves? If you are, you may have viewed the nearby large body of water as just that, but it’s so much more. It’s called Burris Basin and it’s one of our local lifelines for refilling the Orange County Groundwater Basin and helping California native birds. The basin recently underwent a facelift with the completion of the Burris Basin Pump Station Replacement Project.

Are you one of the many Anaheim residents who walk, run, or bike at Anaheim Coves? If you are, you may have viewed the nearby large body of water as just that, but it’s so much more. It’s called Burris Basin and it’s one of our local lifelines for refilling the Orange County Groundwater Basin and helping California native birds. The basin recently underwent a facelift with the completion of the Burris Basin Pump Station Replacement Project.
This project illustrates the complexities of managing one of the world’s most advanced recharge facilities that includes more than two dozen recharge basins (artificial lakes) and a system of pumps, pipelines and levees, plus managing wildlife.
OCWD replenishes water that is pumped from the groundwater basin by about 400 wells belonging to local water agencies, cities and other groundwater users. That water comes from several sources, including surface water from the Santa Ana River (SAR) and advanced purified water from the Groundwater Replenishment System. It is collected and contained in recharge basins, where it naturally percolates down to the vast Orange County Groundwater Basin that supplies 75 percent of the water needs for nearly 2.5 million people.
One of those basins, the largest at 125 acres, is Burris Basin. The Burris Pump Station moves up to 400 Acre-Feet (AF) (130,300,000 gallons) per day of SAR water to nearby Santiago Basins for recharge into Orange County’s groundwater aquifer. To put this into perspective, 400 AF of water is enough water for 800 families of four for an entire year.
In addition to water storage, the Burris Basin features a 2.4 acre bird island, created by OCWD, which is habitat for water-associated bird species, including the endangered California Least Terns and a species considered sensitive by the state of California, the Forster’s Tern.
The Burris Pump Station was originally constructed in 1989 with four pumps placed on an incline, making it difficult to service. After 20 years of operation, the station started showing signs of significant wear and tear. The benefits of constructing a new station outweighed the cost of rehabilitating the existing Burris Pump Station. The new station includes pumps in a more standard vertical configuration, built-in equipment for performing maintenance and state-of-the-art electronic pump controls to assure the new Burris Pump Station runs as efficiently as possible.
The drought was raging and Burris Basin was an important habitat. It was necessary that OCWD keep the existing pump station functional during construction. In order to accomplish this, OCWD divided the project into two phases. Phase 1 construction included building an earthen coffer dam around the site of the new pump station, creating a 2.7 acre work area 40 feet below the basin’s high water elevation. Phase 1 took place after the nesting season ended, during the dry season. Constructing the new pump station was the second phase of the project, with the existing pump station remaining in service until the new pump station was completed.
The Burris Pump Station Project required extensive coordination between the Engineering, Recharge Operations, and Natural Resources departments within OCWD. In addition, to ensure the welfare of its wildlife habitat, OCWD worked closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Region Water Quality Control Board, Orange County Department of Public Works, and Orange County Flood Control.
Because of OCWD’s creative methods to work with extenuating circumstances and provide an engineering masterwork, Burris Pump Station Project Phase 1 received the prestigious American Society of Civil Engineers (Orange County) award for Flood Management Project of the Year.
To get a great view of Burris Basin, visit the Anaheim Coves walking path/bike trail, a part of the more than dozen acres of land OCWD has provided to the city of Anaheim for recreation purposes.

This article first appeared in the July 26 Anaheim Independent. 

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