Thursday, April 26, 2012

Calaveras Dam Tunneling Away

Tunneling is a daily occurrence for other Water System Improvement Projects like our neighbors at the New Irvington Tunnel; as of today the Calaveras Dam Replacement project has reached approximately 65 feet in tunneling for one of our three adits for the Calaveras Dam.
The new intake shaft will be excavated vertically about 200 feet in total. Entering through our new intake shaft, our team utilizes a roadheader, a piece of excavating equipment used to break through bedrock by drilling horizontally. Today, our new adit has successfully reached the existing intake tower, which connects the Calaveras reservoir water supply to the rest of our water infrastructure system. The adits function as connecting tunnels between the reservoir water which is fed through the intake tower and is eventually treated to supply our drinking water. The three adits, located at different levels, are able to transport water at different reservoir levels. Work will begin on the second and third lower adits as the shaft excavation progresses. Our team continues to comply with all the required safety requirements, utilizing a ventilation system through the duration of the tunnel work. View of roadheader looking down into new intake tower:
For more project info, contact us at our 24 hour answer line at (866) 973-1476 or email

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Road Header Rendezvous Challenge

A road header travels east from Mission Boulevard at rate of 45 feet per day. A second road header travels west from I-680 at a rate of 35 feet per day. When will the two road headers meet?

At some point, we’ve all scratched our heads and tried to figure out a math problem like that. Here at the SFPUC we won’t ask you to solve word problems. Instead, we invite you to be part of our Road Header Rendezvous Challenge.

In June, miners excavating the new tunnel from the Irvington Portal in Fremont will meet miners tunneling west from the Vargas Shaft. When it happens this hole-through will mark the completion of the Irvington-Vargas tunnel segment.

The chart above has 101 squares each corresponding to a date and timeframe in June when the rendezvous could happen. Your challenge is to figure out the day and time combination. Guess correctly and you could win a prize pack featuring gift certificates to local business and other goodies.

How to Enter
Choose your top three squares and e-mail your choices to Include the date and time you think the hole-through will take place. Squares will be assigned first come, first serve. Only one square is allowed per person.

For example, someone could submit the following:

  1. June 19 between 6:01 AM and 12:00 PM
  2. June 5 between 6:01 PM and 12:00 AM 
  3. June 28 between 12:01 AM and 6:00 AM 

If the first choice is available then the square is assigned to that person. If the square is unavailable then the next available choice is assigned.

Submissions will be accepted until May 31. Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail so we can contact you if you're successful!

Information to Help You Choose
The tunnel segment between Irvington Portal and Vargas Shaft is 4,500 feet long. As of April 24, miners have tunneled 1,657 feet east from Irvington and 1,810 feet west from Vargas. Ground conditions dictate excavation. In ideal ground conditions, crews have tunneled up to 98 feet in a day. When ground conditions are poor they excavate less than 20 feet. In the last month miners averaged 38 feet per day. Miners do not tunnel on Sundays.

We’ll update the tunnel’s progress every week at Good luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

“And the wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws.”
― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

We don’t have any creatures like that at the New Irvington Tunnel… unless you’re talking about this 55-ton guy:

Our wild things are a bit friendlier and we take great care to keep them safe. Measures like wildlife exclusion fencing and regular monitoring are among the numerous measures to ensure that environmental impacts are kept to a minimum. Project Biologist and Wildlife Photographer Michael Bumgardner introduces us to some of creatures we protect during construction.

The Mourning Dove is one the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds.

The Mule Deer is indigenous to western North America and known for its large mule-life ears.

The Red-winged Blackbird is found in North and much of Central America. Males are all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar. Females are a nondescript brown.

Wild Turkeys are native to North America and are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed.

The Yellow-billed Magpie is a large bird in the crow family found only in California.

To view these and more wildlife and nature photos by Mike Bumgardner, visit

Friday, April 13, 2012

Be Prepared!

In the event of an earthquake, will you have enough drinking water?
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) operates the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System, which provides high-quality drinking water to 2.6 million residents and businesses across four Bay Area counties. The SFPUC is making the investment to seismically upgrade regional water facilities, tunnels, and pipelines. However, it is important for you to know that smaller pipelines leading to your home might be damaged in an earthquake. As a result, water from your tap may be unavailable for up to 72 hours or longer.

To prepare for an emergency:

Keep a 3-day water supply just in case
• Each family member needs 1 gallon per day
• Store tap water in food-grade plastic containers; replace every 6 months
• Store bottled water in the original sealed containers; replace according to expiration date.

If your supply runs out, you can treat your water!
• Boil it for 3 minutes, or disinfect it by adding regular household bleach
• Add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water
• Shake or stir then let it stand for 30 minutes

For more tips, view our emergency preparedness website at

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NIT: A Photo Update

As construction of the New Irvington Tunnel moves forward, here is a quick peek into some of the work taking place to provide a seismically safe water connection 2.6 million people. Photographs by Katherine Du Tiel and Robin Scheswohl © San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Workers install 96-inch sections that connect the
New Irvington Tunnel to the Bay Division Pipelines.

Old sections of the Bay Division Pipeline must be torn out to make way for new sections.

A worker welds sections of the new pipeline together.

Modifications are made to the tunnel’s rail and muck system. Materials and workers travel into the tunnel, and soils and equipment come out of the tunnel on a series of special rail cars.

The men and women of the New Irvington Tunnel: Working hard to ensure safety of the water supply for 2.6 million people.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Calaveras Road Closure: April 9, 2012 thru June 8, 2012

Calaveras Road, in unincorporated county areas, will be CLOSED to vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic between Geary Road to the Alameda / Santa Clara County boundary beginning April 9, 2012 through June 8, 2012, Monday through Friday.

Large trucks will be hauling materials on Calaveras Road, as part of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. It is not safe for these large vehicles to share these narrow portions of the road with private vehicles and bicycles.

Calaveras Road will be open on weekends, 6:00 a.m. Saturdays through midnight on Sundays. The road will be swept prior to each opening. Emergency vehicles would have access to the road at all times. Access to the Sunol Ohlone Wilderness will remain open from the north at all times. From both the north and south on weekends. Access to Ed Levin County Park and will remain open at all times.

For More Information: 24 hour-Answer Line 866-973-1476 or email: