Friday, December 8, 2017

Calaveras Road Closure Extended to September 30, 2018

The closure of Calaveras Road to thru traffic between Milpitas and Sunol has been extended to September 30, 2018. The road has been closed on weekends and holidays because of a land slide that undermined the road within the closure section. 

We anticipate the road to reopen on weekends sometime in 2018. Please check our website at for current information regarding the closure and for upcoming information regarding the reopening of the road during the weekends.

Once complete, the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project will increase the reliability of the water supply for East Bay residents and businesses.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and greatly appreciate your patience and support as we upgrade the regional water system.

If you have any further questions, feel free to call our toll-free 24 hour answer line at (866)-973-1476. Email us at: or

See you around the valley!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wild turkeys at the entrance of Calaveras Road

Happy Thanksgiving! For this special edition of our blog, I asked a few of my colleagues what they’re thankful for as it relates to their work at Calaveras Dam.

Here’s what they said:

I’m thankful for kind and caring coworkers. I’m thankful for good relationships between the contractor and the City. The whole team makes coming to work easy. –JT Munchin-Mates, Environmental Compliance Manger

I am thankful for the opportunity to with an awesome team. –Ritu G. Giri, Senior Engineer-Piping & Pipeline

I’m thankful for the different people I get to collaborate with. We all have different stories and it’s great that we can share and be a team. –Minh Nguyen, QA Inspector

I’m thankful for the memorable quotes that keep our meetings interesting and lighthearted. (1) ‘Where’s the topsoil?’ ‘We moved it.’ (2) ‘This is 5I? What have you done to it?’ (3) ‘It’s pooching out.’ (4) ‘This road is seldom used and moss has grown over it.’ (5) ‘There’s rock in the creek. I’ve seen it.’ (6) ‘C’mon man! You’re losing the focus.’” –Tedman Lee, Civil Engineer

I am thankful to work with intelligent, energetic, and supportive people that are dedicated to the work that they do. It’s also an added bonus to work in an environment where my colleagues make me smile and laugh. –Olivia Nunez, Communications Liaison

I am thankful for the many friends I’ve made during my time here and how we take care of each other and help each other out in our times of need. ☺—Wendie Busbie, Office Manager

As an engineering geologist, I am thankful for the opportunity to work on a major infrastructure project in such an interesting geologic setting, from the beginning of the design phase site investigations through construction. –Phil Respess, Senior Project Engineering Geologist

I am thankful that the Construction Management Team and the Joint Venture are communicative. Whether in the field or back at the office, maintaining an open line of communication is critical for both safety and efficiency and when an issues arises, the solution becomes a productive dialogue rather than a reproachful lecture. –Bill Stagnaro, Environmental Inspector

I am thankful for a great job and a supportive boss. – Jason Lau, FCA Assistant

I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the CDRP project. It is a special and challenging project that is highly educational and memorable. I am also thankful to be working with the project team. The staff from both the JV and CM Team are very competent, professional, and a pleasure to work with. –James Sakai, Project Engineer

This year, I am very grateful to be able to work with all of you in the Sunol Valley.  All your commitment, dedication, talent and hardwork have helped to make very good progress on all the Sunol Projects.  I am so thankful for all your contributions.  Wish you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with families and friends!–Susan Hou, East Bay Regional Project Manager

See you around the valley!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

External Instrumentation at Calaveras Dam

Typical survey monument

The old and replacement Calaveras Dams are located approximately 1,500 feet from the Calaveras Fault.  This means that we need to make sure that there are devices in place to monitor the movements of both the current and future dams and the area around them. 

The future Calaveras Dam will have a total of seven types of instruments inside it and around it.  Today I will focus only on two types of external instruments that will be placed at Calaveras Dam to help us monitor and protect it -- survey monument and accelerographs.

 I will explain the purpose of each and the role each device plays at Calaveras Dam. 

Survey Monuments

Survey monuments are placed both around the exterior of a dam and later will be placed on the surface of the dam.  They are monitored periodically to determine if they have moved from previous measurements, which would indicate any significant movement of the ground surface has occurred. Survey monuments also track the change in elevation of the ground surface, allowing us to determine the settlement of the new dam embankment. Some of the survey monuments placed at Calaveras Dam have survey prisms permitting the monitoring to be done remotely using a digital theodolite (aka total station).   We will have a total of 65 survey monuments at Calaveras Dam.  

 Survey Monument with Optical prism


Accelerographs are used to detect strong acceleration of the ground due to seismic forces. Accelerographs record the acceleration of the ground with respect to time. An Accelerograph is different than a seismograph. The difference is that an accelerograph doesn’t start working until something moves it.  A seismograph is recording continuously.  An accelerograph is a recorder that uses an accelerometer. Accelerometers are much less sensitive than seismometers, but have a much greater range. There will be 4 accelerographs installed around the new Calaveras Dam. 

These features are just some of the ways in which we are ensuring that the new Calaveras Dam serves our current and future generations of customers.

See you around the Valley!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Creepy Tarantulas and Tarantula Hawks

This week’s blog is about one of Sunol’s creepy crawlers—the tarantula. It lurks in the dark and doesn’t come out until October. It’s furry and looks menacing, but is it?

In Sunol there are two types of tarantulas: the blond and the brown tarantula. Pictured below is a brown tarantula or Aphonopelma smithi. This fellow was spotted by our field engineer, Ryan Dougherty.

If you’ve noticed an increase in spotting them, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s mating season for these giant arachnids. Male tarantulas will spend a lot of time weaving webs just above ground, outside the female’s burrow. If you don’t have a keen and trained eye, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a male and female tarantula. A typical tarantula reaches maturity at around 10 years. Most males die within a year after mating and females can live up to 25 years.

If provoked, the tarantula may inflict a painful bite, about like a bee sting. However, tarantulas tend to have a gentle nature, and rarely uses it’s fangs except to catch prey. If proved, it may raise its front legs and its abdomen to look aggressive. It may also release stinging hairs from its abdomen. These hairs irritate the skin of an attacker by digging themselves in with hundreds of tiny hooks.

They eat a variety of insects and other invertebrates, and their diet sometimes includes lizards, snakes and small rodents. They bite their prey, injecting it with digestive juices. Then they mash it with their strong jaws, and drink the liquid.

The tarantula’s feeding habits are gruesome but it's predator, the tarantula hawk, takes the word “gruesome” to another level. The tarantula hawk is a huge spider wasp. When the female tarantula hawk is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the flowers behind and goes on the hunt for a tarantula. Once she finds one, she paralyzes it with a sting. Even though the tarantula is several times her own weight, she drags it to a hole, lays her eggs on it, and buries it. The eggs soon hatch into wasp larvae which slowly devour the paralyzed tarantula alive, from the inside out. Below is a picture of a tarantula hawk. Don’t let their beauty deceive you.

Image courtesy of San Antonio Express-News

If you are hiking in or around Sunol be on the lookout for these furry arachnids. Though they have fangs and carry poison, tarantulas are not considered a serious threat to humans. Please try not to step or run over one.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

New Fish Screens at Fish Passage

Last week several members of our Fish Passage project took a trip to Sacramento to examine the project’s fish screens designed by Intake Screen Inc. (ISI). Next week, our team will be installing four of these fish screens at Fish Passage Facilities located in Alameda Creek.

Pictured below is one of the four new fish screens.

Here is Yen Ng, one of our project engineer’s; looking through what is called an internal cylinder brush. The internal cylinder brush is a key component of the fish screen.

Below is a diagram of a fish screen and its significant components.

Image courtesy of

The goal of the Fish Passage Project is to provide for safe passage of fish around the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam to support the restoration of Steelhead trout to the Alameda Creek Watershed. The project is part of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) to repair, and seismically upgrade portion of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.

Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2018.

See you around the valley!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Photo Friday at the Arroyo Hondo

Happy Photo Friday!

Today's post comes courtesy of watershed keeper Pat Jones.

Recently cloudy skies helped produce some stunning photos. This one shows Calaveras Reservoir and a major tributary into it - the Arroyo Hondo.

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you around the Valley!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Meet Sunol Valley's Natural Garbage Collectors

This week we wanted to highlight some special local inhabitants - turkey vultures.  If you drive anywhere in the Sunol Valley, you will almost always spot a committee of vultures waiting to see what their next meal will be. 

Turkey vultures, like this one spotted near Calaveras Reservoir, like to roost in bare trees to keep an eye (and nose) out for their next meal.

Turkey vultures, also known as turkey buzzards, are the most widespread species of vulture in the New World. They are so named because of their resemblance to the male wild turkey. Their range spreads from Canada all the way to the southernmost tip of South America. We call them nature’s garbage collectors because they feed almost exclusively on carrion and perform a crucial natural function of picking clean disease carrying carcasses.

Vultures are probably one of the most misunderstood birds in the animal kingdom. Here are some fun facts about these creatures:

  • Turkey vultures have one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom.
  • It's a misconception that they actually prefer their food rotten.  However, vultures do have a cool adaptation; their stomach acid is almost comparable to battery acid.
  • Nothing goes to waste with a vulture. They even make good use of semi-digested and digested food.

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons

Although few people would call them cute, they do perform a crucial role in natural areas like the Sunol Valley. 

See you around the valley!