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Handling the pressure

Excavating the volcanic rock required controlled detonation without disturbing nearby homes.


Transients are one of the most common, yet least understood, challenges encountered in water distribution systems. Changes in the operation of valves, pumps, or other infrastructure may cause a pressure wave that contributes to pipe breaks, pump or valve failures, or other problems.

Hydraulic modeling revealed that new water facilities could create a risk of transients for three existing pipelines that cross Nob Hill in San Diego.


We provided geotechnical engineering and designed a new tunnel, pipelines, and an access road traversing steep terrain. Installing a replacement pipeline was challenging, since excavation of the volcanic rock required controlled detonation without disturbing nearby homes.


Our contribution allowed the construction of a hard-rock tunnel 800 feet (244 meters) long and 12 feet (3.7 meters) in diameter, and the installation of a welded-steel tunnel containing three water pipelines, without disturbing nearby residents or the nearby Miramar Dam.

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