Domestic and Fire Water Storage and Distribution System & Lighthouse

The San Gabriel Valley Council – BSA is improving Camp Cherry Valley. The process began in 1993 when we wanted to replace the camps existing Trading Post with a new Camp Store and Craft Center. Following the on site arrival of the two building sections the Fire Department notified us that we needed to upgrade our fire suppression systems to meet current County Fire codes before we could finish and occupy the new store.

It was also recommended that we develop an over all master plan for the property. By December 1998 we had completed all of the necessary studies, reports, and planning required and received approval from LA County Regional Planning and the Coastal Commission for the CCV Land Use Plan. I should also mention that this process not only took five years but cost several hundred thousand dollars to accomplish.

The fire suppression requirements for an isolated youth camp in fire zone 4 are as extensive as any property. We are required to store enough water on site to keep the system operating for 2 hours at specified pressures and volume. The code also calls for the system to be replenished within 12 hours, which the island water system cannot do, so we had to more than double the size of the tank. We are required to have every building internally suppressed with sprinklers, each building must have external hose boxes for exterior fire suppression, and fire hydrants throughout camp for fire truck connections. All of the fire system components must be connected to the storage tank with a dedicated piping system.

To meet the camps current and future development plans and comply with these fire codes we needed to replace all of our existing domestic plumbing supply lines as well. So beginning in early March of 2002 we started digging a 3’x3′ trench from the beach all the way to the top of the camp road. In the trench were placed a 3″ domestic fill pipe, a 6″ fire supply pipe, a 3″ domestic supply line, several electrical pipes with boxes, and many other components such as valves, connectors, tracer wires, and more. All of this was done while running program and maintaining our existing utilities.

What does it take to do a job like this? Eight men, two back hoes, a crane, two utility trucks, two dump trucks, and hundreds of tools. Getting the men, equipment, tools, and materials to the camp starts the adventure. A tug and barge arrives at the cove early one morning, lowers its 40′ ramp, and within two hours all of the equipment is on the beach. Everyone one takes a deep breath and the backhoe starts digging. 20′ feet down the road we broke our first water pipe. Digging through CCV has been unique; we are finding old bottles, abandon septic systems, pipes, and other items but mainly we are finding out where all our old active pipes are located. We’ve got water, sewer, gas, electrical and communication pipes all over camp and only a small portion of which ever made it to an as built drawing for future reference and locating. A lot of hand digging and careful backhoe work was done in the lower portion of camp.

A part of this project that can be very interesting is the county inspection and approval process. Through out the planning and construction phases various agencies must inspect the drawings, work and materials. To follow the fire code to the letter we are supposed to install, fill, and pressurize all the pipes while they are exposed to insure that there are no leaks. Leaving almost 4000′ of trench open down the center of the valley for several weeks is tough, impossible while operating program. The Fire Department has allowed us to cover up the days work and when we have completed the instillation we will pressure check the underground pipes and if there is no pressure loss we are good to go, if not, we dig up the pipes for a visual inspection. Not a good thing.

As I write this we are entering the finial week of this phase of construction. We are running the future attaching lines to the existing buildings and proposed building sites, installing the fire hydrants, and hose boxes. When everything is installed we will flush the pipes, cap all the ends of the pipes at the buildings, and refill the pipes with water, put the entire system under pressure and hope it holds. If all goes well we should have our finial inspection from the fire department this week.

We still need to install the water storage tank and will do so as soon as possible. We hope to begin the grading and foundation work for the tank very soon. When completed and finial approval is obtained we can move forward on our building projects. The first building to go on line will be the new camp store, we hope to make some improvements to the Resident Cabin, install some program housing, and relocate the Warehouse. By then we will be ready to start the new Dining Hall. Many other improvement projects are planned such as Sea Breeze, campsites, most program areas will be improved, another restroom facility built up canyon, and replacement of the Commissioners Cabins are also planned.

Along with the underground plumbing project we are also installing the new Lighthouse. This began with a big hole (2’x12’x12′) being dug in the middle of the beach. Then a form is built and PVC coated steel is tied with vinyl coated wire in to a cage, which fits inside the form. Anyone concerned about rust? The cement mixing process was different. The cement comes in ½ yard bags, the bags are lifted by the crane and held over the cement truck shoot where they are emptied and water added. When the mix is ready it is poured into the form and vibrated to insure a solid pour and slab. We are now the owners of the best concrete slab on the island, with 5000-PSI cement. The cement slab is 2’x11’x11′ and will support and anchor the 28′ Lighthouse.

When we began the whole project the Lighthouse missed the barge and arrived by tug when it was ready. It was another CCV adventure with the Kingfisher II lifting the pieces off the tug bring them to shore and having the crane lift them off of the beach for storage above the tide line. The next day the first two sections were installed and the catwalk was attached. After the third section was installed we ran the “over 500 lbs. test”. The next morning we finished the job by installing the roof, inside ladders, and sealing the seams.

In 1998 our old Lighthouse was brought down by 70+ MPH winds. Even thought the Lighthouse was used as a lighthouse for several years when it was first built for most of its life it was a lookout tower and storage facility for the waterfront. It retained the name Lighthouse because of its appearance and relationship with the Land Ship and the camps nautical theme on the beach. The new structure will better facilitate both of its primary functions by giving the program staff a better visual advantage of the cove and improve our storage capacity.

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One Response to Domestic and Fire Water Storage and Distribution System & Lighthouse

  1. Steven George says:

    I served on Camp Staff in 1975 and in 1979 as Waterfront Director. I am glad to see this site active again. To bad I missed the recent June get together. Can you please keep me posted on other upcoming activities? I live in Wa state and Hawaii most of the year but still have property and friends in CA.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Steven George

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