The city is proceeding with a 6.5-mile water pipeline to wells in Fountain Valley, even though that city has yet to give approval for the project.
The City Council voted Monday night to spend $361,230 for a pipeline right-of-way through the Orange County Water District’s Talbert flood-control channel.
Newport Beach already has dug a reservoir to store water from four wells that the city plans to dig in Fountain Valley. The pipeline would link the wells to the reservoir.
The entire $18-million project, however, hinges on Fountain Valley giving Newport Beach permission to drill the wells.
Fountain Valley has delayed doing so, citing concerns that its own water supply might be depleted or contaminated.
Fountain Valley Public Works Director Wayne Osborne said that city is awaiting the results of a pumping test that Huntington Beach is doing to simulate the effects of the proposed Newport Beach wells.
Newport Beach officials, he said, “assumed that it would all work out. To be realistic, I think somebody dropped the ball out there.”
But Mike Sinacori, Newport Beach’s acting utilities director, said that lining up various segments of the project ahead of time is essential to keep it on schedule and because the city has already contracted for part of the work and would have to pay penalties to cancel those agreements.
Councilwoman Janice A. Debay, who also serves on the city’s Utilities Committee, dismissed concerns that the project will not be completed.
“Fountain Valley is looking into how much it will cost them to pump their water” after Newport Beach digs wells there, she said, “so they can arrive at a fee to charge Newport Beach.”