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By Lillian Boyd

The Dana Point Civic Association will host Rick Shintaku, the general manager for South Coast Water District, for its next virtual coffee chat on Friday, May 21, at 8:30 a.m.

Shintaku will present updates regarding the district’s tunnel project, water rate study, desalination and the impacts of the drought.

For 64 years, a two-mile tunnel beneath the bluff in South Laguna Beach has carried up to one million gallons of wastewater per day to a local treatment facility. The five-year, $100 million Sewer Tunnel Stabilization project is located under the coastal properties of Three Arch Bay and South Laguna.

The tunnel stabilization and sewer pipeline replacement project is a comprehensive solution that will ensure safe and reliable service for the next 100 years, according to SCWD officials. The project has two key components, which include tunnel stabilization and pipeline replacement. The District will enlarge the size of the tunnel from an average of 5 to 7 feet.

SCWD General Manager Rick Shintaku leads a presentation prior to the Board of Directors’ vote to certify the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project environmental impact report in June 2019. Photo: Lillian Boyd/File

“This will ensure safer working conditions and greater access for future pipeline maintenance and repair,” according to the SCWD website.

Permanent shotcrete lining and steel supports will be installed at several locations, replacing rotten timber supports and removing loose rock. For pipeline replacement, SCWD will install a new 24-inch pipeline throughout the tunnel. The current 24-inch pipeline will be encased in concrete and retained for redundancy and emergency use.

The cost to repair the tunnel will be funded through low-interest state loans, grants, and the District’s general fund.

If implemented, SCWD officials say that the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project would provide high quality, locally controlled and drought-proof water supply while protecting the environment. Currently, SCWD imports 85-100% of its drinking water, causing vulnerability during droughts, supply shortages and potentially during natural disasters.

Unlike traditional desalination facilities, the Doheny facility would use advanced slant wells that protect marine life by drawing water from beneath the ocean floor.

The project is currently in the planning stages of implementation. Permitting for the project and several project-related due diligence studies are currently underway, including an Alternative Power Solutions Study, Configuration Options Study, Third Party Hydrogeology Assessment, and Financial Assessment Report.

Shintaku is a registered civil engineer, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in civil engineering, from Cal Poly Pomona and UC Irvine, respectively. He has more than 25 years of engineering experience and has been SCWD General Manager for three years.

In order to participate in the Zoom call, interested parties can contact dptcivic@gmail.com for the Zoom link.

Lillian Boyd Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.

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