Director Michael Abatti introduced a motion requesting the buoys be installed and ready by Sept. 20.
“I know I’m not asking to redo something that the 7.2-magnitude earthquake would do, but the urgency is still the same,” Abatti said referring to the ability of IID crews to act quickly following damage done by the April 4 quake.
“I know what they can do when a 7.2 earthquake hits and how fast they can do it. I think Sept. 20 is very reasonable, and I have a high degree of certainty it will be completed on time.”
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The buoys will be installed every half mile in the canal’s 23-mile concrete-lined portion and at every mile in the remaining 59 miles of unlined canal. Original estimates cited each buoy line would cost $8,300, but more recent estimates peg the price around $4,000 each.
IID General Manager Brian Brady said he doubted contractors could complete the task by Sept. 20. He said it would likely take until the end of September to complete the bidding and contracting process and to begin construction. He said the final completion date depends on how fast the selected contractor can complete the work.
“I seriously doubt that going through our procedures with deliberate speed that we can finish up by the 20th of September,” he said.
Directors Abatti, Jim Hanks, Stella Mendoza and John Pierre Menvielle voted in favor of installing the buoys. Director Anthony Sanchez said he voted against because he preferred an Oct. 20 completion date to ensure the buoys are installed correctly and at a reasonable pace.
Previously, IID officials said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the canal, and the San Diego County Water Authority, which benefits from the lined portion’s conserved water, should pay for the buoys. But IID has been unsuccessful in securing funding from either source.
John Hunter of Citizens for All-American Canal Safety and his wife, Laura Hunter, have worked for the installation of safety buoys in the All-American Canal since the beginning of the decade. They support the buoys because of the drowning deaths of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the canal.
John Hunter said during Tuesday’s meeting that he would be happy to consult the district about the buoys and help install them. In November, he and film director John Carlos Frey installed a buoy line in the canal to show how quickly the lines could be installed.
“I hope it will be a remedy and we can look at it very logically in six months to see if it has a positive effect,” John Hunter said at Tuesday’s meeting. “If, by some accident, it has a negative effect, I’ll be the first one to pull the buoys out. It takes me one minute to pull them out, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Menvielle said it is necessary the buoys be installed carefully and correctly because of the buoys’ expense.
“It needs to be done correctly because these things are going to be here for 100 years,” he said.
>> Staff Writer David Steffen can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org