SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The multi-billion dollar seismic upgrade of the Hetch Hetchy Water System is halfway complete, with a crucial part of construction now starting on the Peninsula.

The project aims to improve the ability for water delivery to more than a million Bay Area residents after a major earthquake.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission started the $4.6 billion upgrade two years ago.

SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington said they will be replacing pipeline along the Peninsula.

“We have a pipeline that was built in the early 1900’s. So it’s over a hundred years old in some places,” said Harrington. “And it runs from Hillsborough into San Mateo, Burlingame, Millbrae, South City, San Bruno, Daly City through El Camino Real in many places.”

Parts of El Camino Real will be shut down over the next two years so the street can be dug up and pipe can be replaced.

Art Jensen with the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency said without the upgrade, a major earthquake could leave large portions of the region without water for 30 to 60 days.

“The economic losses if there were such a large outage of water are estimated to be $28 billion,” he said. “$28 billion. These projects are well worth the money.”

Hetch Hetchy ratepayers are expected to have their water bills triple over the next 15 years to help pay for the project.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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