Utilities Water & Gas / I&C Helping to Keep Research Pumping Long Term

Oakville Station

In the heart of Napa, UC Davis’ Viticulture and Enology program has a 40-acre research vineyard – Oakville Station.  For more than 50 years, the station has been crucial for the research and trials for clones, vine spacing, pruning levels, irrigation, and more. Due to its contributions in helping to better understand the science of viticulture, the maintenance of the facility is incredibly important.  Aware of the specialized research taking place in this location, when a call regarding issues with the pumps at the main facility came through, Utilities Water and Gas and I&C worked together to get to the root of the problem quickly.

The main facility at Oakville and a large part of the property has an underdrain system that pipes excess water to the sump pits before is pumped to the water reservoir that is used to irrigate the grapevines. This system is critical to the vineyard operation since it prevents the groundwater from flooding and killing off the vines. Initially, the team was called with the belief a pump was malfunctioning and causing the system to not work properly. However, upon arrival and troubleshooting, the team determined the issue was not the pump. Instead, they noticed that the sump pit casing was the problem -- the corrugated, galvanized pipe casing had rotten away, allowing rocks and debris to fall causing the pump to clog and the system to stop working. Therefore, W&G and I&C worked together to fix the old sump pits enough while they worked on two new concrete manholes of roughly 12 and 13ft deep that would replace the old sump pits.


The remote location of the job presented some challenges. To complete the job properly and smoothly, the team had to make sure they had all the pieces and materials needed. Due to the distance, the team also spent four nights in a local hotel and worked 12 to 14 hour days. Although it was a big project, it was amazing to finish and get it running within a week! For the main facility, the replacement of the rotten, decayed sump pits for new ones means they now have a reliable and redundant pumping capacity to the underground system, control wiring and more for the next forty to fifty years. 

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