San Pasqual Undergrounding Project

Escondido, California

Michael Baker provided project management, preliminary and final design, geotechnical engineering, stormwater management and sedimentation and structural design services for the San Pasqual Undergrounding Project. Located within the San Luis Rey River Basin in Escondido, California, work included system hydraulic analysis, concept design workshopping, electrical instrumentation, revegetation planning, non-environmental permitting, land surveying, right-of-way mapping and traffic control.

The Escondido Canal was constructed between 1894 and 1895 to supply raw water to the growing population around the City of Escondido. The structure diverts water 14 miles from the San Luis Rey River basin to Lake Wohlford and traverses several Native American reservations. The canal is a concrete-lined trapezoidal channel, roughly 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep, with two-to-one side slopes that follow the contour line at a very mild slope.

Over the past 50 years, the canal, due to its diversion of water from the San Luis Rey River, has been involved in a legal dispute that was settled in 2017. As a result, a roughly 3-mile portion of the canal that travels through the San Pasqual Indian Reservation was required to be relocated or covered and the natural grade restored. This project implements the elements of this settlement.

Primary elements of the project included the construction of a 500-cubic yard dual lane desilting basin, access road with a 16-foot wide by 12-foot-high cut and cover tunnel. The structure required rock blasting to reach the 35-foot-deep road profile, 2 miles of 60-inch diameter welded steel pipeline with a 55 cubic feet per second capacity, a half mile of 5-foot by 4-foot box culvert, a 60-foot-long segment of aerial pipe, pipeline terminal structures and new easements through private property. Michael Baker also developed the design to abandon 2.5 miles of the existing canal and restore the site to pre-construction conditions.


Standard of Excellence

“Due to key elements such as seismic surveys, geotechnical baseline reports, collaborative design and construction team, stakeholder outreach and a rock bid item strategy, this project concluded as a resounding success.”

– Project Manager

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