YV To Pioneertown Water Line To Be Finished And Flowing By April

The delayed pipeline extension project that will convey water from the Hi-Desert Water District based in Yucca Valley to Pioneertown will likely be completed by mid-spring.
Pioneertown is an unincorporated community in the Morongo Basin located slightly more than four miles northwest of Yucca Valley and accessible by a winding road designated as a California Scenic Drive. Originally created in 1946 by actor Dick Curtis as a circa1880s Old West motion picture set, Pioneertown exists now as a rustic community with a population of 420.
The community is administered under the authority of San Bernardino County through County Service Area 70.
Pioneertown has been challenged by water quality issues for decades. That problem has have grown more critical in recent years. The domestic water system in County Service Area W-4, which originally consisted of nine wells with their tanks, cisterns and pipes, has been maintained under the San Bernardino County Special Districts Department Water and Sanitation Division since 1980. It currently provides water to 120 service connections in Pioneertown.
The water from those wells was previously found to exceed Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Public Health and State Division of Drinking Water standard levels for fluoride, arsenic, and uranium content. Indeed, in five of those nine wells, the levels of uranium and arsenic are so high that they are now entirely inactive.  The State and federal Environmental Protection Agency issued violation and abatement compliance notices on those wells and the remaining four, which compelled the need for the pipeline extension project.
According to lab reports for samplings from the water supply in use in Pioneertown tested during a January-to-March 2019 survey, arsenic ranged from 41 to 92 micrograms per liter; fluoride was present in quantities from 1.3 to 8.6 milligrams per liter; gross alpha radiation content varied between 3.3 to 29 picocuries per liter; and uranium was either absent from the water altogether or measurable at a level of up to 23 picocuries per liter.
The maximum allowable level of arsenic in a liter of water is 10 micrograms. The maximum threshold for fluoride is 2.0 milligrams. The maximum permissible level of gross alpha radiation is 15 picocuries per liter.  The maximum allowed level of uranium per liter is 20 picocuries.
The county successfully applied for a $5.4 million grant from California’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund to deal with the issue. The new pipeline is to eliminate the local populace’s reliance on the local wells from which the contaminated water was drawn, and provide Pioneertown water users with water from the Hi-Desert Water District. The pipeline now being installed will run approximately 4 miles, and will be augmented with two booster stations.
On November 6, 2018, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a loan agreement between the County of San Bernardino and County Service Area 70, Zone W-4 for a $5.6 million loan from the county general fund to pay for the construction of a potable water system for Pioneertown. While the intent was that the project would be finished by June 30, 2019, unforeseen delays in the availability of certain construction supplies has set the project completion back.
The purpose of the loan was to fund construction costs upfront in order to meet strict deadlines set by regulatory agencies while qualifying for grant reimbursement from the State Water Resources Control Board. Although no funding agreement for the grant has been received by the county as of yet, the State Water Resources Control Board is working with the San Bernardino County Special Districts Department to complete the necessary steps to issue a grant award to be presented to the board of supervisors in early 2020.
On November 6, 2018, the board of supervisors awarded a construction contract to Sukut Construction, LLC in the amount of $4,623,425 for the project.
Between the time of the original approval of the project and the end of July, the San Bernardino County Special Districts Department issued three administrative contract change orders totaling $43,402. On March 8, 2019, the director of the special districts division, as authorized by the board of supervisors, approved a no cost administrative change order to Sukut adding modified Federal Prevailing Wage Rate Determinations that were issued during the bid process and were required to be used for the project. This action did not increase the contract amount or add days to the contract time. On May 28, 2019, the director of special districts, as authorized by the board of supervisors pursuant to Public Contract Code section 20142, approved an administrative change order to Sukut to add $13,706 to the contract amount with no change in the contract time to address additional work required for tank seismic code requirements and unforeseen buried trash removal and disposal. This action increased the contract amount from $4,623,425 to $4,637,131. On July 29, 2019, the director of special districts approved an administrative change order to Sukut to add $29,696 to the contract amount with no change in the contract time to address certain design flaws and miscellaneous items not included in the plans and, as requested by the County Service Area 70 W-4, to include additional security considerations, fiber optic terminals, additional curbing and chain link fencing. This action increased the contract amount from $4,637,131 to $4,666,827.
Last week, the board of supervisors approved not a change order but a contract amendment to the project to cover unanticipated and unforeseen additional cost items that took place after the competitive bid process.
According to Luther Snoke, the interim director of the county’s special districts department, “In regards to the recommended contract amendment, the State officer from the [California] Division of Finance overseeing grant management on the project authorized the department to include an emergency generator and facilitate the abandonment of five existing lower producing wells, which were contaminated and no longer needed. This was requested by the Department of Environmental Health for safety reasons as additional work on the project, as part of the original $5,400,000 State Water Resources Control Board grant contingency, was still unspent and available for use.
Based on Snoke’s recommendation and the board’s approval, the county is paying $160,650 for a generator and another $11,545 for the installation of its pad and electrical facilities, together with $48,825 for the abandonment of the five wells. The contract amendment will run to  $221,020.
Snoke told the board of supervisors, “Contract Amendment No. 1 also extends the contract time from 150 calendar days to 480 calendar days to allow for additional water quality testing that was required by County Services Area 70 W-4 and [the] Environmental Health [Department], long lead times required to comply with the grant requirement of the Buy American Act for steel components, and completion of the additional scope of work, in particular to allow for the long lead time required for generator design, submittals and approvals, fabrication, delivery, and installation. The contract time is the agreed-upon period of time allotted to the contractor to achieve completion of the entire scope of work, without the imposition of liquidated damages.”
Acting as the  the governing body of County Service Area 70, Zone W-4, the board of supervisors on December 17 approved Amendment No. 1 to Contract No. 18-822 with Sukut Construction LLC in the amount of $221,020, increasing the total contract amount from $4,666,827 to $4,887,847 and extending the final completion date to April 30, 2020.

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