PALMDALE — Construction is about to begin on a project that will serve the dual purposes of recharging the groundwater basin beneath Palmdale, while creating a natural recreation space for residents.

The Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project will pipe State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct to a series of recharge ponds near Elizabeth Lake Road and 25th Street West, where the water will be allowed to percolate through the ground into the aquifer beneath.

The project is a joint effort with the Palmdale Water District, the city of Palmdale, Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency and the Los Angeles County Water Districts.

The project has two phases: construct the turnout in the aqueduct and run the 48-inch pipeline to the recharge area and to build the recharge basins and realign the usually dry Amargosa Creek. The recharge basins will be located both to the west and east of 25th Street West.

Once constructed, the pipeline connecting to the aqueduct will belong to AVEK, the largest State Water Contractor in the region.

Once it reaches the recharge basins on the east side of 25th Street West, the pipeline will connect to smaller pipes feeding each basin, where the water will be allowed to percolate through the ground, Palmdale Senior Civil Engineer Mike Shahbakhti said, in a progress report to the Palmdale Water District governing board on Monday.

Eventually, recycled water from the wastewater treatment plant will also be piped to the recharged basins to help feed the underlying aquifer.

The project also includes plans for Palmdale to create a nature park along the recharge area, to be used for habitat restoration and as a pleasant area for residents to visit.

Led by Palmdale, the project is getting ready to begin construction of the pipeline connection to the aqueduct, which will require restricting the flow and lowering the water level in a section.

Work on that connection may only be done between Nov. 15 and Jan. 31, 2019, to minimize the impact of the restricted flow of water.

In August, the Palmdale City Council approved a $6.03 million contract with Nicholas Construction for the aqueduct connection and pipeline. The construction team is scheduled to begin moving equipment into place next week, Shahbakhti said, with installation of the dam in the aqueduct set for Nov. 15.

The connection to the aqueduct part of the project is allotted 78 calendar days, or 50 working days, to be completed as the water flow will have to be returned to normal by Jan. 31, 2019.

The pipeline will connect to the aqueduct south of Elizabeth Lake Road, run along City Ranch Road to the north, then connect with Elizabeth Lake Road and head east toward 25th Street West.

On Oct. 2, the Council approved a nearly $5.9 million contract with Bowe Construction for the second part of the project, the recharge ponds, realignment of Amargosa Creek and habitat restoration.

Work is just beginning on this part of the project, which still needs plan approvals to comply with environmental regulations. The state considers Nov. 1 through March 1 to be the wet season locally, and construction in the creek bed areas may only proceed when there is no surface water, Shahbakhti said.

Overall, the total project is expected to cost $14.4 million, once construction management contracts, contingencies, administrative and other costs are included, he said.

If everything goes well, the entire project may be completed by this time next year, Shahbakhti said.

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