Building a Pipeline
Though, today, the Geysers Recharge Project needs only a crew of seven to manage, maintain and operate it on a day-to-day basis, the tasks of planning, designing and building the behemoth project took many years, over $200 million, and a cast of hundreds.
After an unsuccessful 13-year search for a weather-independent solution to the area’s wastewater disposal challenges, the environmental process for the Geysers Recharge Project began in 1993. It took another seven years of project planning and design, environmental studies, legal wrangling, and contracting with construction companies before the first piece of pipe was laid into the ground in the summer of 2000.
The pipeline project runs along public roadways as much as possible to minimize impacts to the environment and private properties. Nevertheless, once construction began, it continued to encounter political and legal challenges mostly from businesses, residents, property owners and farmers affected by construction activities.
Undaunted, city and project leaders stood by their convictions and the pipeline continued along its 41-mile course through Santa Rosa, the neighboring communities of Windsor and Healdsburg and up to its terminal tank overlooking the Geysers steamfields high in the Mayacamas Mountains.
On its way to completion, the pipeline burrowed beneath the Russian River in two locations – requiring tunnels up to 90 feet deep and 600 feet long; climbed over 3,000 vertical feet up the steep, narrow and winding Pine Flat Road; and tip-toed (as much as a large construction project can) through the environmentally sensitive Mayacamas Mountain Audubon Sanctuary. Pump stations along the route were designed to visually blend into the surroundings and operate almost noiselessly.
Nine construction companies and over 700 people were involved in building the Geysers Recharge Project, which took three years to complete.