Mark McDermott

$39 million Peck Reservoir rebuild will begin in October

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The new Peck Reservoir. Rendering courtesy of City of Manhattan Beach

by Mark McDermott 

After nearly a decade of planning, the City of Manhattan Beach will begin a $39 million rebuild of Peck Reservoir, its 63-year-old water storage and filtration facility. The project was unanimously approved by City Council at its August 20 meeting. 

The Peck Reservoir Replacement Project was originally proposed in 2010 but took a decade to plan, go through environmental approvals, and finance. Stephanie Katsouleas, the director of Public Works, led an extensive public outreach effort over the last two years and oversaw multiple bids for contractors to engage in the construction and design of the new reservoir. The project includes not only a new reservoir structure, but a new operations building, a water treatment facility, sidewalks, metal fencing, retaining walls, landscaping, and off-site trench work on Peck Ave., 18th Street, and Herrin Ave. 

“This is the second largest project the City has ever undertaken,” Katsouleas told the Council, behind only the Police and Fire Facility. “So it is a big deal.” 

The existing facility, constructed in 1957, stores two-thirds of the city’s water reserves but was both technologically outdated and quickly deteriorating. It stores 7.5 million gallons of water; the new facility, which will be at the same location, 1800 Peck Ave., will store 8 million gallons. More significant than its increase in size, however, will be its increased capacity to draw from city groundwater. 

“Right now the amount of groundwater we pump is really limited by manganese and iron,” Katsouleas said. “And so when we pump it, we have to blend it with our imported water to make sure we stay below certain constituents and thresholds. But with the adding of some treatment processes, we’ll be able to take that out directly and pump more, which reduces our need for imported water. And that’s good for everyone.”  

In addition to helping meet the city’s daily potable water needs, the reservoir is also crucial for emergency storage. Councilperson Suzanne Hadley praised Katsouleas and her team —  which included City Engineer Prem Kumar, Senior Civil Engineer Gilbert Gamboa, and Utilities Manager Shawn Igoe —  for their work on an essential but unglamorous project. 

“I’m excited about it, just knowing we’ll have clean and safe water in the event of an earthquake or who knows, a bioterrorist attack or something,” Hadley said. “Your efforts are appreciated, and I love this stuff —  it’s not sexy and glamorous. I’ve been a mom, and it’s not sexy to be a mom. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.” 

“We are raising great infrastructure,” Katsouleas said. 

The largest of the bids, which Katsouleas said were lower than expected, went to Pacific Hydrotech Corporation for construction. That bid, for $31.5 million, was nearly $5 million below the next lowest bid. Construction will begin in October and last an estimate 20 months. The Council is also hoping to install solar panels at some point in the future, an idea that resident Craig Cadwallader, the head of the local Surfrider chapter, urged them to do sooner rather than later. 

“It’s good to have clean water but also good to have clean energy,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win combination.” 

Afterwards, Mayor Richard Montgomery emphasized the importance of the new reservoir. “The new Peck Reservoir will provide 8 million gallons of water for our residents and businesses in a time of need,” Montgomery said. “The existing reservoir has been leaking for years and it required a plan to protect that valuable resource.” ER 

 

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