Río Colorado-Tijuana pipeline begins full operations

Friday, April 29, 2011

The expanded Río Colorado-Tijuana pipeline in northwestern Mexico's Baja California state began full operations on April 30, Marco Antonio Santacruz, general director of construction firm Makro, told BNamericas.

The expansion was carried out by Administradora de Obras y Concesiones (AOC), formed by Makro and Urbaca, which was awarded a 15-year concession to build and operate the pipeline by national water authority Conagua. US-based Ameron supplied pipelines and also participated in designing the project.

Work involved building 64.4km of pipeline to bring water to Tijuana from the Colorado river and increasing the capacity of six pumping stations to provide an additional 1.3m3/s of water, bringing total capacity to 5.3m/s.

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The project began around three years ago and a testing period got under way in March this year, Santacruz said.

The project used welded steel pipes, with protective layers that minimize the need for maintenance work, according to David Tantalean, VP of marketing at Ameron.

"The linings and coatings on the steel pipe are very cost-effective, meaning the pipeline will be pretty much maintenance-free for the next 50 years," Tantalean told BNamericas.

The pipeline expansion cost an estimated 1.4bn pesos (US$122mn), of which 50% was provided by the Mexican government, with the developer financing the remainder. The Baja California water commission will pay AOC to operate the pipeline for the duration of its contract.

The pipeline was the first in Mexico to be built under this type of financing model, Tantalean said.

The Río Colorado-Tijuana pipeline was first built in the late 1970s, and was expanded between 1980 and 1994 to bring capacity up to 4m3/s.