We manage over 210-miles of rights-of-way lands, which are owned in fee or controlled as easements and located in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties. The Rights-of-Way (ROW) contain the major arteries of the water transmission system which can be categorized into three groups:
- primary transmission lines;
- secondary transmission lines supplying major reservoirs and
- tertiary lines supplying wholesale customers.
The ROW traverse rural and urban settings, with the majority located adjacent to or through urban communities and vary in width from 40 feet to 100 feet. Parcel shapes are generally linear, but a variation in parcel shape is not uncommon.
Land Parcel Uses
Currently, there are numerous parcels of land on the ROW which are utilized for a multitude of purposes which include parking lots, roads, recreational parks, bike paths, utility easements, landscape corridors, storage facilities, and other land uses which have been deemed to be compatible with the water transmission infrastructure. These lands are either leased or administered with revocable land use permits.
Other sections of the ROW may be underutilized or may not be suitable for other land uses. Areas such as residential neighborhoods adjacent to the Rights-of-Ways may not be suitable for the development of industrial or business uses. Or site conditions such as steep slopes may limit the acceptability of certain land-use proposals.
Land and Rights-of-Way Access Permits - short-term permits (14-day maximum) are issued for access to and/or across the rights-of-way for a variety of purposes. Other types of permits pertaining to the rights-of-way include Land Use Permits and ROW Leases. Land Use Permits are issued through the Water Supply and Treatment Division's Land Engineering Section and are generally for engineering-related access to the rights-of-way such as the need for a pipeline or cable to cross the right-of-way. ROW Leases are issued by the Real Estate Services Bureau and are generally issued for non-engineering related uses of the rights-of-way such as a parking area or storage facility.
In some locations on the ROW, unauthorized uses have become liability issues, for both security of the water transmission system and the threat of personal liability suits. Periodic surveillance of the ROW is required in order to prevent unauthorized encroachments and land uses. A loss of revenue can also be associated with certain unauthorized, but otherwise acceptable, land uses. Maintenance of the ROW, where there are no other land uses, is a formidable task, requiring annual treatments for weed abatement, fire hazard reduction, litter or dumping abatement and fencing improvements.
Careful management of these numerous and narrow parcels of land is tantamount to the protection of the water supply infrastructure. Development of a Comprehensive Rights-of-Way Management Plan will address the need to protect and maintain this vital part of the water supply infrastructure through the implementation of policies and best management practices.