Newport Beach Wastewater Pump Station Set for Eventual Replacement

May 18, 2021 Updated: May 18, 2021

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The 55-year-old Bay Bridge Pump Station and associated force mains are the subject of a proposed project to bring the facility and mains to current design and reliability standards.

The replacement project construction would be a major undertaking, both on land and under the bay, taking several years to complete.

In February, the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) board certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Bay Bridge Pump Station and Force Mains Replacement Project, which was made available to the public in January.

The plan calls for a new facility to be built prior to the old being demolished, allowing the city to continue transporting wastewater to the treatment plant in Huntington Beach during the years-long project. The new facility would include the pump station, as well as a generator, and odor control facilities within and adjacent to the existing facility.

The proposed expanded facility would be approximately 14,500 square feet in site area, as opposed to the almost 4,800 square feet that exist under current conditions. The new pump station would require the replacement of portions of the existing OCSD gravity sewer system, which would be constructed to convey wastewater to the new pump station wet well.

The force main improvements would include the construction of 1,500 linear feet of dual force mains (up to 32 inches in diameter) across the Newport Bay Channel south of Bay Bridge to connect the new pump station to the existing OCSD force main system west of the Newport Bay Channel.

The project would either micro-tunnel or open trench cut under East Coast Highway, to the south side of the bridge, where the project would dredge under Newport Bay Channel.

Going with the Flow

Force mains are pressurized sewer pipelines that help pump stations move the wastewater through pipes because gravity alone is not enough. The project to replace the dual force mains at the Bay Bridge include two side-by-side sewer pipelines that run across the lower Newport Bay Channel.

The average daily flow through the existing pump station is four million gallons a day (mgd), with a normal peak flow of eight mgd. Four mgd is equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools of water passing through the pump station each day.

During wet weather events, the Bay Bridge Pump Station receives upwards of 17 mgd. This means the pumps need to be sized appropriately in order to handle and prevent overflows during normal flows and wet weather events.

According to the OCSD, wastewater treatment is required to take place 24/7 because wastewater is continuously flowing to treatment facilities. With the existing Bay Bridge pump station and force mains nearing the end of their useful life, officials warn there is an increased risk of sewage spills directly into the channel that would be harmful to public health and the environment.

The replacement project is currently in the preliminary design phase, with construction anticipated to begin in fall 2023, concluding in 2026.

Pump Maintenance

The OCSD is currently conducting planned routine maintenance of a pumping station located on the Bay Bridge portion of Pacific Coast Highway between Bayside Drive and Dover Drive. The station was originally built in 1966.

Pump stations are an integral part of all sewer systems, which consist of a complex web of pipelines that carry wastewater from residences, businesses and manufacturers to treatment facilities throughout the county.

Since not all of Orange County slopes toward treatment facilities, pump stations are a necessary part of sewer infrastructure, and are constructed when there is no alternative to getting flows from low to high points to continue by gravity or pressure, in this case moving the waste from Newport Beach to the Huntington Beach treatment plant.

“The work currently being conducted is routine scheduled maintenance to replace aging equipment,” OCSD spokesperson Daisy Covarrubian told The Epoch Times on May 17.

All total, OCSD has 15 off-site pump stations throughout the county with eight of them located along the coast of Newport Beach.

“We are constantly improving and enhancing infrastructure to make sure that everybody has reliable sewer service access across the county, and to prevent any major failures,” Covarrubian said. “Our priority is to keep our waterways safe and clean, so that everyone can enjoy recreating in the bay and ocean.”

The Bay Bridge work started in early May and will continue daily for the next few months Monday through Friday. Northbound traffic could be impacted by the closure of the bridge’s bike lane and pedestrian sidewalk.