Friday, January 12, 2018

Photo Friday from January 9, 1913

Happy Photo Friday!

While the East Coast of the U.S. experiences frigid temperatures and some frightening weather event called a 'bomb cyclone', we in the Bay Area, have been experiencing relatively mild temperatures. 

This was not always the case, however. For this Photo Friday we delve back to photos taken almost exactly 105 years ago, on January 9, 1913. 

On that day the crews constructing the first Calaveras Dam found their work site covered in snow. 

The site was so remote back then that the crews lived on site. Here is the watershed keeper's house and another worker's cabin.

Shown here is a barn, corral, and nearby cottage. 

It might be foggy out there today, but at least it isn't snowing!

Happy long weekend and see you around the Valley!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Sunol Valley's Native Residents - California Tiger Salamanders

Photos curtesy of Bill Stagnaro

It has started to rain in the East Bay! And with the first major rain fall of fall and winter appears a native Sunol Valley resident - the California Tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense). 

These ever smiling amphibians are very elusive and hard to find. They are not really smiling but appear to be because of their wide mouth outlined in yellow. An adult California Tiger salamander can reach 7.5 inches or more in length.  Adults are black or dark grey, with oval to bar-shaped spots ranging in color from white to yellow. Juveniles are dark olive green in color and do not generally have any lighter markings. The best time to spot them is at the beginning of the rainy season.

The California Tiger salamanders found in the Sunol Valley are a federally threatened species. These beautiful amphibians have a complex life cycle that requires them to have different types of habitats. During mating season, they like to live in vernal or stock ponds. The juveniles and adults live in grasslands and oak woodlands, mainly living underground in the burrows made by other animals.  It is not uncommon to find California Tiger salamanders cohabiting with a family of ground squirrels.

During breeding season they will travel a mile or more to a nearby pond to breed. Although they may live as long as 10 years, they may reproduce only once. Females lay eggs singly or in small groups. Its larvae require significantly more time to transform into juvenile adults than other amphibians. Around late spring, salamanders leave the ponds to find burrows.

You most likely will never spot a California Tiger salamander during the hot summer months that’s because they are in estivation. Estivation is basically another word for “summer hibernation.” During this time they enter a dormant state and will not come out of their burrow until late November or the rainy season.

Photo curtesy of

If you’re ever spot a California Tiger salamander in the Sunol Valley,  smile back at it and count yourself lucky to have spotted it.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year Photo Friday: A Year's Work

The start of any new year is a good time for reflection. For us here at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, we are reflecting on how much progress we have made in 2017. Below are two pictures of our project, one at the beginning of the year and one taken a couple weeks ago.

Calaveras Dam at the beginning of 2017:

We were months into building the dam itself, and the foundation, and outlet pipeline are still above ground.

Calaveras Dam in late 2017:

As you can see from the picture above, we made tremendous progress on construction of the replacement dam itself. The team is more than half way up with the building of the replacement dam, whose final grade you can see rising up more than 110 feet. The foundation and outlet pipe are completely buried now under the new dam.

To date, our project is 89% complete. Our New Year's goal is to have the entire project completed by mid-2019.

From all of us, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year!

See you around the valley!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Photo Tuesday at Sunol Valley Yard

Photo Tuesday at the Sunol CorporationYard

Today's post is about the SFPUC's Sunol Corporation Yard, which is located near the Sunol Water Temple.  In the last year, we have been constructing badly-needed upgrades to the Corporation Yard that is home to our Water Supply and Treatment East Bay operations and our Natural Resources personnel. 

Here are some photos of our progress.

Shop #5 will house plumbing and electrical supplies

Iron workers at the job site

The Sunol Yard Long-Term Improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.  During construction, the Sunol Water Temple will be closed to the general public.

We hope you are having a wonderful Holiday Season.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Piezometers and Inclinometers - Part 2

Piezometers and Inclinometers

This week’s blog is Part 2 of our instrumentation series. Piezometers and inclinometers are two types of internal instruments used to measure a dam’s movements. Both of these instruments will be installed in the new Calaveras dam.


A piezometer is an instrument that monitors the ground water through the dam’s core and into the downstream drainage blanket and downstream rock/soil shell. A piezometer helps to ensure that the ground water surface does not erode the toe of the dam (the bottom downstream part of the dam). It also helps track the water level in the underline bedrock foundation.

How Piezometers Work

An open stand-pipe piezometer is an open pipe (see picture above) that permits water to enter. The water level is measured and compared to other piezometers surrounding the dam’s face. These types of piezometers are called open-stand piezometers. We also have automated piezometers called Vibrating Wire Piezometers (VWP’s). VWP’s are data collection devices. We will have a total of 17 VWP’s and 14 open-stand pipe piezometers at Calaveras Dam.

Image curteosy of


An inclinometer is an instrument that measures the movement of a slope with respect to gravity. Slopes on dams are built to be stable but still need to be monitored for possible movements. Inclinometers verify the stability of dams, dam abutments (sides) and upstream slopes during and after a reservoir filling.

How Inclinometers Work

Inclinometers measure the orientation angle of an object with respect to the force of gravity. This is done by means of an accelerometer, which monitors the effect of gravity on a tiny mass suspended in an elastic support structure. When the device tilts, this mass will move slightly, causing a change of electrical charge between the mass and the supporting structure. The tilt angle is calculated from the measured electrical charge. You will always find inclinometers in pairs or sometimes in 3’s. Two inclinometers placed at Calaveras Dam.

Image curtesy of

Piezometers and inclinometers will play an important role in Calaveras. Once they are placed, they will need to be monitored and observed on a frequent basis.

See you around the valley!

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!