Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone begins work to stop damage from groundwater

$10.5 million project involves building two wells and piping water into aquifer.

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune.

Monday, June 13, 2011—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Trench being dug in soil.A large trench is being dug at Ohlone College, in Fremont, Calif., June 10, 2011. The trench is part of a project to stop ground water intrusions that have damaged campus buildings. —Anda Chu/Staff.

Fremont—Work is underway to prevent groundwater from further damaging buildings at Ohlone College's Fremont campus.

The hillside campus is closed this summer as work crews dig two wells and a series of pipes to channel groundwater away from campus buildings and back into local aquifers.

For decades, groundwater has seeped into the walls of structures that were built into hillsides. Many of the buildings have underground utility tunnels that also have been damaged from years of groundwater intrusions, said Lucky Lofton, Ohlone's director of facility maintenance.

While the most disruptive work, including digging trenches near Mission Boulevard, is being performed this summer, students in the fall should expect several pathways to be blocked while construction continues through the end of the year.

Already, the early June rains have delayed construction workers, Lofton said.

The $10.5 million project is being funded through the school's 2002 facilities bond and from state funds.

The two wells will augment an existing well on the south end of campus that proved inadequate for steering groundwater away from campus buildings.

The trenches on the lower portion of campus later will be filled with rock and earth after a pipeline is installed to distribute water back underground so that it can be used in the local water supply, Lofton said. Presently, the groundwater collected in the campus's lone well was piped into the storm drain system.

In addition to building the wells and pipelines, the project also involves replacing damaged concrete and rebuilding portions of the utility tunnels.

Additional work will be needed to repair damage from about four decades of groundwater intrusion on campus, Lofton said. Those funds will likely come from Measure G, a facilities bond approved by voters last year.

In a separate project, the campus has installed a modular science laboratory, which will replace a lab that had become outdated, campus officials said.

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