ARLETA (CBSLA.com) — After decades of being dry, a massive tunnel is being readied for a major water-run following record rainfall in the Sierras.
The Maclay Highline was originally built to transport water from the first Los Angeles aqueduct to the Maclay Reservoir.
Tools and construction gear now fill the area where water used to flow. After a winter of record snow-pack in the Sierras and the most run-off in years, the LADWP decided the tunnel was thirsty and it was time to get the Maclay Highline back up and running — a $4.5 million project.
When finished, water will be picked up from the L.A. aqueduct and flow through about two miles of tunnel. It will end up in Pacoima, where it will percolate through the soil into the water table 400 feet below the surface. What’s not saved will end up in homes from across the San Fernando Valley to downtown L.A.
Mike Grahek manages the southern Los Angeles aqueduct for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He told CBS2/KCAL9’s Danielle Gersh the tunnel hasn’t been used since the 80s.
“We’re typically scrambling over the last five years with a drought trying to find water,” Grahek said. “Every drop counts and even in years of plenty like now. We want to make the best use of that water as possible.”
Water will start flowing through the Maclay Highline in October.
It is expected to store $20 million of water in its first year.