Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring at San Antonio Reservoir

Happy Photo Friday!

Anybody passing through the Sunol Valley these days can't help but notice that spring has sprung.  The hillsides are vibrant green. Wildflowers are starting to make their colorful appearance. 

And SFPUC Watershed Keeper Pat is out on the watershed, as usual. Today's Photo Friday is courtesy of Pat, who shared this early morning picture from San Antonio Reservoir.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Photo Friday From the Fish Passage Project on Alameda Creek

Happy Photo Friday, Everyone!

Ever wonder what a fish ladder looks like from the inside?

You are about to find out, courtesy of our Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed Project. The project's goal is to support the restoration of steelhead trout to the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed by building a fish ladder around the SFPUC's Alameda Creek Diversion Dam, in addition to other fish-friendly improvements on the structure.  

Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2018.

Workers pouring a concrete slab for the Fish Ladder.

A member of the construction crew examines the rebar to reinforce the fish ladder.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Celebrating Amazing Women Near You

Just this week, we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. March is also the beginning of National Women's History Month. In honor of the contributions of hard-working women everywhere, we wanted to highlight a few fabulous women who happen to work at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project whose daily contributions ensure the success of this critical project. 

Eunice Lee, Field Engineer, Sukut Construction

As an alumna of the UC Irvine Civil Engineering program, Eunice has been working on heavy civil construction projects since 2010.  As part of the contractor’s team, Eunice is a field engineer who specifically oversees the installation of geotechnical instrumentation and the permanent power system for the future replacement dam.  Eunice truly enjoys being a part of this team working with so many experts and experienced individuals to build something great. 

Karene Salaam, Project Controls Analyst, Black and Veatch

Staff who make important contributions to the project don’t always work in the field. We have a team of people whose task it is to track project costs and spending. On a job the size of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, this is no simple task. Karene Salaam is part of the Construction Management team and oversees the preparation of cost reports, progress charts, manpower plans, equipment and material costs and project schedules.  Her careful review and analysis ensures the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has close financial oversight of all project spending by the construction contractor and the subcontractors.

Carrie Dovzak, Geologist, Environmental and Naturally Occurring Asbestos Compliance MonitorSan Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)

Carrie Dovzak has worked for the SFPUC for 10 years, the last 6 1/2 of it working on Sunol Valley projects. It is Carrie's job to monitor construction activities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and protections. She studied geology after traveling the world with her family - a perk of her father working for Pan American Airlines. After graduating, she mapped landslides in Northern Italy before returning to the U.S. to join her family. She continued her studies in Engineering Geology and Environmental Education at San Jose State and Hayward State. "Everyone should take a few classes in geology, you see the world in a completely different way!" she insists.

Ritu Gyawali Giri, Senior Engineer, Piping and Pipeline, Sukut Construction

Ritu Gyawali Giri is part of the outlet works team. She and her team focus on the new piping and pipelines that allow the SFPUC to take water out of the reservoir to our customers. She began in the construction industry in 2002, as a Site Engineer in Nepal. She has worked on projects all over the world, from Asia to Africa to the United States. Ritu relishes working through the geographical and environmental challenges to build the new Calaveras Dam. She is delighted to be a woman engineer working at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Day in the Life of a QA Inspector

Meet Minh
Minh Nguyen is one of our QA inspectors working at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. On a chilly morning in Sunol Valley, he is typically one of the first team members on-site with a coffee in hand.

What is a QA Inspector? A Quality Assurance (QA) inspector is someone that ensures the project is being built correctly. They are tasked with observing and reporting that quality control measures are effective, so that the entire dam project is being constructed to the expectation of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“Divide and conquer,” is the motto Minh likes to personally use every morning when the team of QA inspectors report to each of the major activities on site. The QA Inspectors pair themselves with a Quality Control (QC) inspector as they observe activities such as placing materials into the dam, cleaning and preparation of rock, installing rebar, and testing of materials used to build the dam will meet specific quality standards. Communication is of vital importance between the QA and QC because they all need to agree to the same level of quality. When Minh is not performing QA Inspection at Calaveras Dam, you can find him playing a game of flag football, rock climbing, backpacking in the wilderness, or just hanging out with friends on the weekends.

Minh working on inspection of the Stream Maintenance Building

Friday, February 24, 2017

From Acorns to Oaks

What do we see here looking down this plastic tube?

These are acorns collected from the Sunol Valley. For what you ask? We are planting over 150 Oak trees at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. As a commitment to the environment, the tree plantings are part of our mitigation to restore oak woodland at our project site. We are also committed to re vegetating all areas with annual grassland where oak woodland is not appropriate. 

Among the species being planted are the Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and the Blue Oak (Quercus douglassii). Historically, oak trees are slow growing and can take as long as two to three decades before they begin to provide significant shade. Winter is an ideal time to plant to allow the tree to focus on root growth. 

Some oaks can send a tap root down as deep as five feet in the first year of growth. To help the acorns sprout, and to avoid being dug up by squirrels and birds, they are placed in the plastic tubes right into the ground. The tubes also protect them from hungry herbivores –like deer - and provide a great micro climate for the trees to thrive. 

The next photo shows our oak tree plantings in an area we are no longer working in, the left abutment of the dam, located at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. 

See you around the Valley!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What is this Building and What Does it Have to do with Fish?

Despite the recent heavy rains, the crews at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project have been pouring concrete for an important feature of the future Dam – the stream maintenance building, pictured below.  The new building stands 25 feet tall and is located downstream at the toe of the future replacement dam.

We at the SFPUC will be releasing water from the future Calaveras Dam to support fish in the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed.  What’s that have to do with this building?  A lot, actually.  The stream maintenance structure provides a place for water discharged out of the future Dam to be collected and then discharged in a controlled manner to the nearby Creeks to support fish habitat. Water will flow from the reservoir to the structure via two 30 inch diameter pipes. Water will exit the structure over grouted rip rap to prevent erosion.

The Calaveras Dam Replacement project is more than 80% complete and expected to be completed in mid-2019.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Getting By with a Little Help From Our Friends

We do not need to tell you that now is the rainy season in Northern California. Some amphibians in the  Sunol Valley use the the wet season to move around from their burrows to breeding habitat and to find food.

Recently one of the workers at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project spotted this California newt  passing through the construction site. On its back a Sierran Tree frog was hitching a ride. Who can’t relate to a time when you need a lift to get where you’re going?

Our workers are trained to spot wildlife like this and move them out of harm’s way for construction… hitchhiking or not.

Stay safe and dry out there!