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Irrigation District Earns Engineering Award
Workers smooth out concrete lining being poured on the inside wall of the OID’s North Side Regulating Reservoir. The reservoir project recently won an award from the Sacramento Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. - photo by Photo Courtesy Of Oakdale Irrigation District

The North Side Regulating Reservoir is a project that was initiated in 1997 when the Oakdale Irrigation District acquired the first piece of land for the project. There were delays due to funding issues and then taking time to implement the Water Resources Plan to better plan for the reservoir, but the project began picking up steam in 2007 and is now very near completion — only about two weeks or less of work left as soon as the weather cooperates.

The time and effort spent on this capital improvement project has been recognized by the Sacramento Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), awarding the district with a 2009 Project of Merit for the reservoir.

In his letter to the district, ASCE awards committee chairperson Thor Larsen said they “found it to be an exemplary project.”

OID General Manager Steve Knell said that the district was pleasantly surprised with the award, acknowledging that for the northern California chapter for civil works, it’s like an Academy Award for engineers.

“We knew we had a good project,” he said. “…But when you look at the diversity of the award categories, we didn’t know where we stood.”

The North Side reservoir is 30 acres in size, about 10 feet deep, and will serve as 320 acre feet of storage for the district. Knell said that the reservoir will be drawn up and down daily during the irrigation season in order to meet water customer needs. He added that they try to operate the regulating reservoirs in a middle one-third range of capacity to accommodate fluctuations in flow needs.

The district already has two regulating reservoirs: Rodden Lake, which is over 90 years old, doesn’t operate at full potential and has location restrictions and the Van Lier, a facility on the south side that opened in 2002. Knell said the district needed a regulating reservoir closer to its service area and more responsive to the north side.

While the Van Lier is a modern facility, the new North Side reservoir employs newer technology. Knell said its automated hardware is much more responsive and the gates are more accurate.

In a prior Leader article, it stated that the reservoir will serve to regulate the district’s water at a savings of about 6,000 acre feet per year.

The North Side reservoir is south of Frankenheimer Road and east of 28 Mile Road, near where the Burnett Lateral intersects with the Cometa Lateral/North Main Canal.

The total cost of the North Side reservoir is approximately $6.5 million. The design for the project began in 2008 and went to bid in 2009. Provost & Prichard Consulting Group, with offices in Oakdale, designed the project while OID engineer John Davids handled the in-house design works, communicating the district’s needs to the firm.

Floyd Johnston Construction of Fresno won the project bid and Knell said that the district was pleased with the work performed by the firm on the reservoir. OID construction and maintenance manager Gary Jernigan was the contracts manager for the project and dealt with the bid packages and specifications and managed the construction. His staff also conducted inspections along with outside inspectors.

“We’re excited about the award,” Knell said, “and excited about turning it (the reservoir) on this summer.”

He added that the district and its customers will see marked improvements on the north side and show benefits of regulated water during the irrigation season. He said that the district will be able to save over 75 percent in time, noting that water controls that took nearly five hours to complete before will now take about one hour.

The Sacramento Section of ASCE will present the 2009 Outstanding Engineering Project Awards for projects of significance in their particular category of Civil Engineering at an awards dinner on Feb. 17 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be the keynote speaker for the dinner with News 10 Meteorologist Darla Givens serving as the program emcee.