Award is expected by the end of May of a contract for two reaches of the All-American Canal near California's border with Mexico following a March 22 bid opening by Imperial Irrigation District (IID). San Diego-based Ames/CSI is the apparent low bidder at $8.187 million for both sections. Other bidders include Alamo, Calif.-based R&L Brosamer Inc. at $9.2 million; Vancouver, Wash.-based Kiewit Pacific Co. at $16.16 million; and Bozeman, Mont.-based Barnard Construction Co. Inc. at $20.968 million. By replacing 23 miles of the 82-mile unlined canal built about 1900 with concrete-lined canal, the work will stop 67,700 acre-ft of seepage from the 3.1 million acre-ft of Colorado River water that flows through it each year.

Construction requires excavating a canal prism from the sand and running a paving train to place the concrete, insert joints and apply a curing compound. It will require 4.7 million cu yd of earth excavation, 375,000 sq yd of 4-in.-thick concrete, 600,000 sq yd of PVC geomembrane lining and some dewatering for transition structures. Work could start in the summer and be complete in 2008.

The engineer's estimate was for $6.032 million, more than $2 million below the low bid. Kirk Dimmit, IID executive program manager, says it is not unusual for bids to come in above the engineer's estimate, and the project is still doable because of a cost sharing arrangement with San Diego Water Authority.

IID opens bids for the final reach of the project on April 5. This project will place 1 million sq yd of 4.25-in.-thick concrete canal lining, build three reinforced-concrete transition structures and reshape and reline 4,500 ft of existing canal.

In halting seepage, the project has been controversial. In February, a U.S. District Court in Las Vegas dismissed seven of eight counts in a suit by a consortium of Mexican and California-based environmental and economic-development groups that claimed deprivation of water rights because seepage would no longer recharge the Mexicali Aquifer. The judge did not set a date to hear arguments on the validity of the environmental documents.