Friday, May 18, 2018

Happy Infrastructure Week 2018

The Week of May 14 to May 21st is national Infrastructure Week! This is the week where public agencies across the nation highlight the importance of our nation’s infrastructure, and the need to maintain it.

At the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, our ratepayers had the foresight more than 10 years ago to allow us to pass the $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP). The program has 87 projects, spanning seven counties, to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade aging portions of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. To date the program is more than 90% complete.

A tremendous amount of work was done in the Sunol Valley to ensure a seismically reliable water supply for our Bay Area customers.  The Calaveras Fault runs right through the Sunol Valley. The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project is the largest WSIP Project in construction, but there have been many others. Here are the highlights:  

Alameda Siphon #4. A high tech pipeline crossing of the Calaveras Fault designed to survive an earthquake. Completed 2013.

New Irvington Tunnel. A new seismically designed tunnel to connect the new Siphon with new pipelines in Fremont. Tunnel brought into service in 2015.

Upgrades to our Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant to enable the plant to provide minimum demand to all of our 2.7 million customers on its own for up to 60 days. Completed 2015.

A complete new Bay Division Pipeline #5 to connect the New Irvington Tunnel to a new Bay Tunnel and the Peninsula. Completed 2016.

We've been posting videos on Facebook all week to highlight the SFPUC's efforts to upgrade your infrastructure. And at Twitter: #TimetoBuild. See the Facebook posts  here.  

See you around the Valley!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Friday - Lupine at Calaveras Dam

Happy Photo Friday from the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project!

The hillsides in the Sunol Valley are still green this time of year, and wildflowers are blooming, including at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

Robin Scheswohl, our fabulous SFPUC photographer, captured this beautiful photo. You can see the new dam being constructed in the background and blue lupine in the forefront.

Construction of the dam itself is expected to be completed this year, with site restoration to follow.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fossils from the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project Find their New Home

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has been working since 2011 to build a replacement Calaveras Dam out of seismic concerns for the existing 93-year-old dam in the Sunol Valley.

To make space for the new earth and rock-fill dam, the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project has had to move almost 10 million cubic yards of soil and rock. While moving all this earth, the project team began to find what has been called one of the greatest fossil finds in the Bay Area in decades.

To date more than 1,300 specimens have been discovered. Most them are fossils from an ancient ocean and beach area approximately 15 to 20 million years ago. Water covered much of California back then, and an inland ocean extended to the Central Valley.

Many of the fossils are high-quality specimens that can be used to further research into evolution or global change. (UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Amongst the vertebrate fossils are marine mammals, like baleen whales or Mysticetes and toothed whales and dolphins or Odontocete; and Desmostylus, an herbivorous hippo-like marine mammal), seals or sea lions, sharks, and bony fish, such as halibut.  The invertebrates include scallops (some as big as a dinner plates), clams, snails, cockles, mussels, crabs, and barnacles. The team believes it has found a new species of whale among the dozens of whale skulls found.

Researchers have pieced together the jawbone from a 15- to 20 million-year-old whale. 
(UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Researchers can tell this area was near to shore because they have also found plant material that washed into the ocean from land, including pine cones, palm trees, leaves, and wood. They can tell that the Bay Area was warmer back in this time, and the ocean teemed with life.

Through an agreement between SFPUC and the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) the entire collection of fossils will now be housed within the UCMP collections. The fossils represent California’s fossil heritage and as such, belong to all the citizens of California, and will be managed on their behalf by the University of California Museum of Paleontology. 

The UCMP assembled a team to manage this collection, including a Lab Manager – Dr. Cristina Robins, many undergraduate students, two graduate students per semester, and volunteers.

Graduate student Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith uses a brush to spread adhesive over a fossil found during the Calaveras Damn replacement project. (UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Dr. Robins and her team painstakingly chip away the rock from the fossilized bone to identify each specimen. It is laborious work. They often find new specimens inside the rock blocks around other specimens. More fascinating fossil discoveries lay ahead for the UCMP team.

Fossils waiting to be released from rock fill the small lab located at UCMP.

And we at the SFPUC know the fossils are in excellent hands.

See the video and read more here:

See you around the Valley!

Friday, April 20, 2018

ENR’s 2017 Top News Maker Award Winner: Susan Hou

Every year, Engineering News-Record (ENR), a construction industry magazine awards 25 people in the United States for their outstanding work in the construction field. To select ENR Newsmakers, ENR’s editors search the magazine’s web and print pages for individuals who had served the “best interests of the construction industry and the public.”(ENR Website). This year, Susan Hou, SFPUC's East Bay Regional Project Manager was chosen to be a recipient of this prestigious award.

Susan Hou

Susan joined the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project in 2011 and become its project manager in 2013. She has guided the team through many challenges. Through her leadership and collaboration, Susan kept the team on track.

Susan Hou with CDRP's Managment Team

Congratulations Susan!

See you around the Valley!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Come Join us at the Wildflower Festival!

The hills are green and the flowers are in bloom in Sunol. This is a perfect opportunity to come out to the East Bay Regional Park District's Wildflower Festival to learn more about the flora and fauna of the region.

When: Sunday, April 8, 2018 from 10 am to 4pm
Where: Sunol Regional Wilderness, 1895 Geary Road, Sunol, CA
Cost: Free admission ($5 parking)

The festival is a fun family day out. Learn about watershed animals, wildflowers, and grasslands. Enjoy the beauties of spring in one of the East Bay Regional Park District’s crown jewels at the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Learn more at

Stop by and visit us at our booth. Get the latest and greatest information on all of our ongoing projects. Flaunt your Alameda Creek Watershed knowledge and win a prize! Fun crafts for the kids.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sometimes Construction Methods Don't Change

Image courtesy of
(place image here)

The photo below was taken in 1918-- when the first Calaveras Dam was being constructed.  These workers are excavating in the dam's foundation.  They're using using 4-mule carriages(4-horsepower) to do the job. Each power train (4-mule carriages) transport approximately 4 cubic yards per load at a speed of 1 to 2 mph. 

Fast forward a hundred years.  The photo below was taken at the new Calaveras Dam as workers were excavating the new core.  The workers in this photo are doing the same job with a Caterpillar Motor Scraper with a 450 horse power engine capable of carrying 30 cubic yards at a speed of 25 to 30 mph.

Although times have changed, sometimes the methods don't.  

See you around the valley!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Carpenters Hard at Work

Today’s photos were taken by SFPUC photographer, Robin Scheswohl, inside the construction project to rebuild our Sunol Corporation Yard, which is located near the Sunol Water Temple.

While on site, Robin caught sight of a few of the approximately 11 carpenters who are working to build the structures for the new hub of East Bay water system operations for SFPUC staff. 

Here's a glimpse of their hard day's work.

Carpenter welding steel framing inside one of our buildings.

Here's one of our talented carpenter’s welding a piece of steel.

And, here she's installing the steel framing.

The Corporation Yard will be home to our Water Supply, Treatment East Bay Operations and Natural Resources Personnel. Improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2018. During construction, the Sunol Water Temple will be closed to the general public.

See you around the valley!