Alec Takes the Design Lead on the Recently Constructed Grand Avenue Pipeline

Alec Escamilla has been with Civiltec for going on two years now. In that time, he has grown and taken on more and more responsibility as well as become a leader of our Internship Program and even helped to plan events for employees. His own professional growth has led him to his first design lead. Here is what he has to say about the design of the recently constructed Grand Avenue Pipeline.

This is an important project for Valencia Heights Water Company and the community. The pipeline being replaced was nearly 70 years old with several leaks reducing the reliability of the line. A house was also built over the water line in an easement making potential leaks beneath the home near impossible to repair. This new pipeline will provide greater distribution reliability to the community and ease maintenance to Valencia Heights Water Company for many decades to come. The team designed the installation of nearly 1,000 linear feet of new 12-inch water transmission pipe and worked to minimize the number of new easements that Valencia Heights Water Company would need to obtain with the realignment. Phase 1 brought in approximately 709 linear feet of the new line from the south to the backyard of the home with the pipe beneath it. As well as making all the service connections so the homes on the south had water.

Phase 2 was where it got really interesting involving the installation of approximately 228 linear feet of new pipe by a pipe bursting. Imagine pipe bursting like taking a big pizza cutter to slice the existing pipe, using a larger metal head to push the existing pipe out into the surrounding soil, and simultaneously pulling the new pipe through the expanded existing pipe. Allowing a faster installation and avoiding digging along the entire pipeline in someone’s yard. The process was very collaborative with Valencia Heights Water Company as we looked into multiple options, including pipe bursting, horizontal directional drilling, and cast-in-place pipe, to avoid trenching approximately 228 linear feet of pipe. 

I really enjoyed getting to take the lead on this project. There was an even greater sense of ownership of both the design and outcome of the project. This was a great project to take the lead on for three main reasons. First, it was a very unique solution that Civiltec hadn’t done before so I was able to learn more about the pipe bursting process and work with experienced contractors to implement the design. Second, I had a great team. From Chris Duncan on the survey to Jenny Tsan creating the actual plans to Shem Hawes’s guidance throughout the process, I was set up to stretch myself and succeed. Third, I had a great client to work with. A learning curve came with both this project and taking the lead. Determining what method to use to place the new pipe and ensuring that we had sufficient space on both ends was a challenge. Any of the proposed methods would have been a first for me, so I did a lot of research and spoke to contractors about the different options. One of the areas where we planned to place the insertion pit was in a small drive with several utilities. I had been out to visit the site early in the design and made note of utilities in the area on my own and had a chance to go out to visit the site again with Shem. He was able to point out additional utility connections to homes and conduits just from looking at the cracks in the pavement that we should be aware of and include on the plans that I hadn’t noticed.

I’m definitely excited to keep taking the lead on additional projects. I’ve been able to do so on a small treatment system as well as numerous smaller development projects. I am looking forward to continuing to improve my ability to lead projects, coordinating internally and externally. I’ve still got a lot to learn; I see taking the lead on projects going forward as one of the best ways to learn quickly and develop my engineering and leadership abilities, especially as I hope to earn my PE license before the end of the year.

We at Civiltec cannot wait to see what projects Alec tackles next!