Hetch Hetchy pipeline runs into native siteBy Kamala Kelkar
Construction workers retrofitting a 9-mile pipeline to deliver Hetch Hetchy water have run into an $8.8 million conundrum: American Indian remains and artifacts in Redwood City.
Archaeologists found remains while they were conducting pretrenching, a process similar to hand-digging, said Christina Kerby, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the government agency overseeing the $52 million project.
On Tuesday, commissioners voted to reserve $8.8 million in emergency funds in response to the find to dig a tunnel underneath the site after archeologists determine how deep the artifacts go, do additional pretrenching and complete several other unexpected projects in regards to the findings. Documents presented at Tuesday's meeting showed that they initially saved $23.7 million on the contract, and those funds were still available.
"It shouldn't affect the project timeline," Kerby said. "We're still on target for completion spring of 2012."
Kerby said she could not disclose exactly where the site is for fear of pilfering, or what exactly it was they found. She also said people should be careful not to call the find a "burial ground" because interment customs vary throughout the country.
Also, a high concentration of nickel found in the ground during the project increased costs because it requires special disposal.
The 9-mile Bay Division Pipeline upgrade is one of several projects to replace water pipes and tunnels throughout a 167-mile network that carries snowmelt from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park to San Francisco and surrounding cities.
The SFPUC will eventually rebuild a 5-foot diameter welded steel pipeline through the cities of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and unincorporated San Mateo County parallel to an existing 90-year-old line that will not withstand a major earthquake.
Also Tuesday, the commission unanimously approved reserving $8 million for unexpected costs involving realignment of a tunnel and mitigation for contaminated groundwater.
"There are a lot of industrial contaminants from what I understand. It's still early in the process," Kerby said.
The first people who lived in Redwood City were members of the Ohlone tribe, who inhabited an area that stretches from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Their remains also were found at the base of the Bay Bridge's temporary S-curve and are often found at construction sites throughout the Bay Area.
Copyright ©2010 San Francisco Examiner. Published 11/11/2010.