Fern Valley Water District field staff repair the pipeline leaks. Photo by Tony White

On Thursday, Aug. 6, the Fern Valley Water District was made aware of major leaks in its pipeline, according to General Manager Victor Jimenez. Instead of replacing or rebuilding Tank 2 at the top of Circle View, which had low- and high-pressure lines, the board decided to install three pressure reducing stations and eliminate the need for the tank, a recommendation Jimenez made a couple years ago.

Only three homes were impacted by the use of Tank 2. 

The district was able to adjust the pressure with the three stations. However, the adjustment caused a water hammer. According to Jimenez, it woke up a bunch of small leaks that had gone undetected. When the pipe had enough water to go through it, the thin and compromised pipe was unable to handle the pressure change, resulting in the leaks. 

According to Jimenez, a minor water hammer is to be expected. However, due to the condition of the pipeline, one section was impacted more than others — Rising Glen Road and above. 

Jimenez told the newspaper that the pipeline replacement in this section will be moved to the top of the Capital Improvement Plan. 

When field staff checked the first leak, they discovered that the pipe was covered in tree roots. This is because, according to Jimenez, the pipe was leaking and the roots migrated to the water source.

Even though the road never collapsed, there were some locations where water was coming through 

the asphalt or side of the road. 

Field staff had to the check areas with a leak locator because the leak sources were not always where water was visible. 

“There is no pressure release in the system,” Jimenez stated. “We are going to install them. No one ever thought to put them in.” Jimenez has been the district’s general manager for four years. 

Jimenez is uncertain how much this will cost the district. The district is fixing the leaks with repair clamps, and as of now, it is just the cost of clamps (some of which the district already had on-hand) and in-house labor. 

Jimenez warned that leaks could continue to happen for the next couple of weeks. Field staff repaired the 19th leak on Thursday, Aug. 13. 

Cla-Val, the company that initially dialed in the three stations, came out again on Aug. 13 to dial in all three stations again and things, according to Jimenez, are working well.