Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drilling Begins at the Vargas Shaft

The SFPUC took an important step forward towards the construction of the New Irvington Tunnel. The Southland/Tutor Perini Joint Venture and their subcontractor Malcolm Drilling drilled the first of 76 secant piles for the 120-ft deep Vargas Shaft. Secant piles are 39-inch concrete filled piles that provide support for the excavation of the shaft. When complete, the 41-ft diameter Vargas Shaft will be a starting point for tunneling activities.

The New Irvington Tunnel will run 3.5 miles and have an internal diameter of approximately 8.5 to 10.5 feet. The new tunnel will provide a seismically-designed connection between water supplies from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Alameda Watershed to Bay Area water distribution systems.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tunneling Machine Has Finished Its Job!

A significant milestone has been achieved for the Alameda Siphon No. 4 project. In November, a 96-inch (eight-foot) diameter micro-tunneling machine completed its work to construct a 554-foot-long tunnel underneath Alameda Creek.

As work progressed to construct the tunnel, the team encountered some technical challenges with the micro-tunneling machine. However, the resourceful team and contractor came together and successfully overcame the obstacles to finish the work on a tight schedule.

Crews posed in front of the tunneling machine after it completed its work.

Crews removed the cutterhead portion of the machine from the retrieving pit.

“This tunneling accomplishment marks a significant milestone for the project. It required a great deal of hard work and coordination to work through some major challenges, and I want to commend the entire project team for their efforts,” explained Sunol Regional Project Manager Dan Wade.

This newly constructed tunnel is a significant component of the new Siphon No. 4 that will stretch across the Sunol Valley, connecting the existing Coast Range Tunnel at Alameda East Portal to the existing Irvington Tunnel and the New Irvington Tunnel (currently under construction) at Alameda West Portal. It will help ensure the SFPUC can deliver water to its customers after a major earthquake. This is necessary since the three existing siphons cross the Calaveras Fault and are vulnerable to earthquake damage.

Project Construction Manager Eric Gee explained that since the tunneling work is complete, the contractor efforts are now focused on the rest of the work inside the tunnel. This includes installing one 66-inch (5.5-foot) diameter and two 12-inch diameter pipes and securing it within the tunnel. This work will continue through the end of this year.

Project Manager David Tsztoo explained that the Alameda Siphon No. 4 project, which is more than 50% complete, also includes construction of a new pipe manifold and upgrades to the existing valves control facilities and the Town of Sunol pipeline near the three existing siphons. All work for the project is expected to be complete by December 2011.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunol Temple Centennial

Members of the Sunol community recently joined the SFPUC to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sunol Water Temple near the SFPUC Sunol headquarters in the East Bay.

The 1910 temple, designed by noted architect Willis Polk, was built as a permanent tribute to the convergence of three sources of water serving San Francisco at the time—Alameda Creek, its tributary the Arroyo de La Laguna, and the Pleasanton Well Fields.

SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington was Master of Ceremonies, and welcomed the crowd of several hundred people. Commission President F.X. Crowley talked on the significance of today’s upgrades to the region’s water facilities under the Water System Improvement Program. He also announced plans to upgrade the Sunol firefighting system, and reiterated the SFPUC’s dedication to the restoration of Alameda Creek. “Today,” he concluded, “we are celebrating a monument to the most precious of resources—our water”

Speakers representing the Sunol community included Alameda County District 2 Supervisor Gail Steele and long-time civic leader Pat Stillman. Stillman hailed the multi-year partnership between community and SFPUC that had produced the day’s celebration, and the temple’s restoration 10 years before. “My hope is to celebrate the water temple not only today, but tomorrow, and for many years to come,” she said. “Long live the water temple!”

Commission Vice President Francesca Vietor thanked the Sunol Planning Committee for its role in the successful day. A new plaque commemorates the temple’s centennial, and new interpretive panels chart Sunol water system history, from its 19th-century beginnings through today.

The current Sunol Valley water system is a critical link between the Sierra/Central Valley portion of today’s 167-mile Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System and the Bay Area’s transmission lines serving more than 2.5 million people. The SFPUC is upgrading all Sunol Region delivery and treatment facilities as part of the SFPUC’s comprehensive $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade the aging system, which crosses three major and active earthquake faults.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pipeline Construction on Calaveras Road

The Alameda Siphon No. 4 Project will be installing two large-diameter pipelines across Calaveras Road starting Wednesday, August 25, 2010 through Friday, August 27, 2010.

What this means:
* Through traffic on Calaveras Road will use small temporary bypass roads from the north and south alongside Calaveras Road to accommodate the pipeline installation.
* This area is located on Calaveras Road approximately 2 miles south of Highway I-680.
* The contractor – Steve P. Rados, Inc. will have traffic controls in place and will work to minimize any delays to through traffic. Please plan accordingly.
* Please adhere to the posted speed limits to protect the safety of the public and our workers.
* Those who need to enter and exit from Calaveras Road at this location could also experience delays as they are safely directed into the lane of traffic.

Thank you for your continued patience and support!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Active in the Valley

For those who have driven through the Sunol Valley on Calaveras Road on a weekday, you'll notice a great deal of construction activity.

The Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant Expansion and Treated Water Reservoir Project has begun, and the contractor, Shimmick, has been moving earth to make way for the new treated water reservoir.

The Alameda Siphon No. 4 Project has begun excavation of the special trench at the Calaveras Fault Crossing as well as micro tunneling underneath Alameda Creek.

The San Antonio Pump Station Project completed all the micropiling work underneath the station, and are working quickly on retrofitting the small pump station.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alameda Siphon #4 Update

The Alameda Siphon #4 project has just completed the work on Siphon #2, which has been shut down for a matter of months. Siphon #2 should be brought back in service this week.

The Steve P. Rados crew will enjoy a very short break before preparations for the next shutdown begin next week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

San Antonio Pump Station Answer

The answer is:

a. $14,000. The Pump Station was built in 1967. We are working to upgrade it now to make it more reliable in case of an earthquake.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Test Your Sunol Valley Knowledge

What did the average house cost when the San Antonio Pump Station was built?
A. $14,000
B. $100,000
C. $3,000

Stay tuned for the answer!

To give you a hint, here is a photo during the pump station construction.

Monday, March 22, 2010

See you at the Sunol-Ohlone Wildflower Festival

Now is a perfect time to visit the East Bay Regional Park District's Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness Park.

Come by the park this Saturday, March 27th for the Sunol-Ohlone Wildflower Festival, 11 to 4 at the Park headquarters: 1895 Geary Road, (south end of Geary Road off Calavaras)

SFPUC will have a booth there. Drop by and learn the latest about the Water System Improvements, enjoy fun crafts for the kids, and test your watershed knowledge.

See you there!

Friday, March 5, 2010

March Coming in Like a Lion for Sunol Valley Work

The Alameda Siphon #4 contractor - Steve P. Rados - has begun preparations for the shutdown of Siphons #2 and #3, and will work around the clock through May to complete the complicated pipeline tie-ins on time.

The San Antonio Pump Station contractor - Mountain Cascade - has begun demolition work on parts of the San Antonio Pump station as part of the upgrade and seismic retrofit. They do this gently, though, since the pump station can't be out of service for any long period of time.

It doesn't look likely that work will go out like a lamb at the end of the month, does it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Light at the End of the Coast Range Tunnel

Despite horrible weather, two small earthquakes, and a lightning strike on the Peninsula, crews completed their work on the Coast Range Tunnel ahead of schedule.

Hetch Hetchy water is flowing back to our customers. The Steve P. Rados team is drying off their rain gear, and preparing to work on the other side of the Valley.
Crews here install huge pipeline connections onto the tunnel face.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Soggy in Sunol

Crews for the Alameda Siphon #4 project continue to work round the clock to finish crucial work during the Coast Range Tunnel shutdown, even during these heavy rains.

The speed of work has slowed some so that workers remain safe. They're still on schedule, though.

Friday, January 8, 2010

3.8 Quake on Calaveras Fault

At 11:48 this morning the USGS reported a 3.8 earthquake on the Calaveras Fault near the Calaveras Reservoir.

There was no detectable damage to the Dam or other SFPUC pipelines and facilities in the Sunol Valley.

Work on upgrading the Sunol Valley water system to make it more reliable after an earthquake continues.

Recent Earthquakes A Good Reminder to Store Water

The recent earthquakes are a good reminder for San Francisco Bay Area residents that it is not a matter of if but WHEN the next big earthquake will strike. We all must prepare.

One of the best and easiest things residents can do is store tap water for emergency use. After a big earthquake, water mains may break and homes may be without water for several days. We are upgrading our pipelines, reservoirs, pumping stations and other facilities to prepare for the next big earthquake.

Store at least one gallon of tap water per person per day to last at least three days. Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight and change water every six months (pour water on a plant and refill bottle). You can reuse 2 liter soda bottles or use other food grade plastic or metal bottles for storing water.

Learn more at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coast Range Tunnel Shutdown Begins

The SFPUC has begun the long-planned temorary closure of the Coast Range Tunnel to perform maintenance and inspections on the tunnel and construct crucial pipeline connections to the tunnel in the Sunol Valley while it has been drained of water.

SFPUC customers will begin receiving water from reservoirs in the Bay Area exclusively until mid to late February.

Here is a view of the ventilation system constructed for this shutdown to keep air flowing through the tunnel.