Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sights & Sounds

What does lifting, moving and welding 50-foot sections of 102-inch (8 ½ foot) steel pipe look and sound like?  Check out the sights and sounds of pipeline installation at the Irvington Portal:

A total 18,660 feet of welded steel pipe will be installed in the new tunnel.  The pipes are the final liner of the New Irvington Tunnel, through which the pristine drinking water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir will flow to the San Francisco Bay Area.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

We have Reached the Dam Foundation.

We continue digging away here at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. In July we reached a milestone of excavating the first million cubic yards of earthen material. This week we have reached another important place---the foundation of the dam. The foundation of the new dam will be on bedrock and is located almost 225 feet below the top of the existing dam. The existing dam still holds back the Calaveras reservoir and, as expected, we encounter some minor seepage at the bottom that is controlled by pumping to our storm water treatment system. This is just the first phase of excavation work on the east side of the dam foundation. The west side of the dam foundation will be done later as we prepare that surface for the installation of the new dam’s spillway. It is important to note that this significant construction project is taking place while the Calaveras reservoir remains in service as an important source of drinking water for our Bay Area customers.

View of excavated area of dam foundation

For more project info, contact us at our 24 hour answer line at (866) 973-1476 or email

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pioneering Pipe 106

A few years from now it might be difficult to differentiate Pipe 106 from all the components of the Hetch Hetchy Water System.  After all, the 50-foot pipe is a relatively small piece of the complex series of reservoirs, tunnels, pipelines and treatment systems that deliver drinking water from Yosemite National Park to the San Francisco Bay Area.

So what’s so special about Pipe 106? Last week it was the first steel pipe section to enter the New Irvington Tunnel! Check it out!

It’s just like Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon right? Okay, not quite. But here at the New Irvington Tunnel we think it’s pretty exciting.

Standing alone at 102-inches (8.5-feet) in diameter, Pipe 106 was the first of 373 50-foot sections that will eventually carry drinking water to 2.6 million Bay Area residents.  Crews loaded the pipe onto a custom-made carrier that traveled just over 4,200 feet from the tunnel portal to its final position underground.  As a pioneer, Pipe 106 led the way for over 1,700 feet of pipe to enter the tunnel to date.

So on a hot summer day in the not so distant future when you reach for that glass of drinking water, remember Pioneering Pipe 106!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Geologist by Day, Beekeeper by Night

During the day Scott Ball works underground somewhere between Fremont and Sunol.  As a geologist, he documents and examines rock conditions inside of the New Irvington Tunnel.  He helps ensure the tunnel is excavated safely and according to design specifications. Scott also monitors construction activity at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Underground or above it- Scott is one of the many men and women working seismically upgrade the Hetch Hetchy Water System.

When he goes home at night he trades his hard hat, miners lamp and self-rescuer for a veil, gloves and a smoker.  Why?  Scott is also a hobbyist beekeeper.

Recently, his day job required the talents of his night job.  Crews noticed that a colony of honeybees had taken up residence inside of a sound wall at the Irvington Portal.  Luckily, help to safely relocate the colony was not far away. After his shift, Scott donned his beekeeper gear and went to work.

Scott, joined by environmental inspector Carrie Dovzak, started by filling the feral colony with smoke.  Smoke calms bees and masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees. The reaction created an opportunity for Scott and Carrie to open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction.

Scott carefully removed the bees from the hive using a bee capture container and a shopvac. Capturing the bees first makes it easier to remove the comb without having honey soaked bees and wax all over.  The honeycomb was removed from the wall and placed into moveable frame hives.

Once out of the wall and in their new hive, Scott moved the feral colony near his home.   The bees in the hive continue to thrive there … just away from an active construction site.