Residents of the greater Tehachapi area listened with eagerness to guides from the Tehachapi Cummings-County Water District as they spoke about the meticulous process of transporting one of the area’s most precious resources — water — to the area. More than 40 participants learned Thursday how this resource from the California Aqueduct reaches customers each day.

“It is quite an engineering marvel,” said Tom Neisler, general manager for the district. “More than half of the water we utilize within the district is imported water and less than half of what we use is groundwater. The groundwater is filtered through aquifers and is pumped by users.”

The district focused on education about safety, the amount of time it takes to maintain infrastructure and ensuring water is provided for residents and agricultural customers.

“We import water from the State Water Project,” said Neisler. “It travels 400 miles from Lake Orville to where we pick it up from the California Aqueduct.”

The four pumping stations from the aqueduct near Arvin to Brite Lake in Tehachapi transport water through more than 31 miles of pipeline up the mountains, ensuring the area has groundwater recharge.

More than 10,000 gallons, or equivalent to a full swimming pool, is pumped per minute. The pipeline is constructed with bar wrapped steel pipe and concrete exterior, and was built in the early 1970s for $10 million, with some cost estimates to replace the pipeline at $150 million, added Neisler.

This year the district will import more than 10,000 acre feet and supply water for Bear Valley Springs, Stallion Springs, Golden Hills, the City of Tehachapi and the California Correctional Institute.

Staff emphasized during the tour that pumps and infrastructure are efficiently working every day and safety is highly important to the district.

“The water is under extreme pressure when it leaves the plants,” said Troy DePriest, operations manager for the district.“The system is monitored constantly and alarmed so if there are any abnormal pressures, the system will notify the on-call operator. If there is a significant seismic event, we will check the main lines and dams to see if there are affects.”

This year has seen the most public turnout for the tour and has allowed residents to see the process for supplying water to support the area.

City resident Jan Combs said, “I thought it was a great adventure.”

The district maintains Antelope Run and Blackburn Dam and monitors groundwater levels and ensures safety of the community in case of a flood. In the greater Tehachapi area, customers pump water from wells, supplying drinking water.

“We recharge the Tehachapi and Cummings Valley basins and monitor the level of groundwater,” said DePriest.

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