Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Come Join Us at the Sunol Pioneer Festival on November 3rd

Happy Halloween! Hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday! To keep the fun rolling into the weekend, you’re invited to join us at the East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Pioneer Festival this Saturday, November 3 from 1-6:30 p.m. The festival will celebrate Sunol’s pioneer and ranching heritage, and the SFPUC is excited to be participating in this event. We will have a booth with historical artifacts and photos as well as a prize wheel where everyone will have a chance to win a prize! We will also have project team members available to answer your questions and provide you with information about all our projects in Sunol. The festival is open to the public, and it will be held at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness located at 1895 Geary Road (south end of Geary Road off Calaveras Rd). Be sure to stop by and say hi!

For more details about the festival, please visit the East Bay Regional Park District website.

 View of the Sunol Water Temple from 1922. Come visit our booth at the Sunol Pioneer Festival to see more historical  photos of the Sunol Valleyand our projects!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Teamwork pays off

It’s not quite like a Giants baseball game out here, but our crews at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project sure know a thing or two about the importance of teamwork.  Just like base coach Tim Flannery uses hand signals to communicate on the field, our Calaveras Dam workers use the same method to communicate to each other at the site.

Since Friday, we started filling concrete in the new shaft which is an important function for the new Calaveras Dam.  The shaft is part of the new intake tower which moves water from the Calaveras Reservoir through the adit tunnels eventually treated to become our drinking water. The level of noise and limited visibility in the shaft can be challenging, so our workers rely on hand signals and radio communication to mobilize.  Our workers signal the crane to lower a bucket full of concrete into the shaft, and then workers below fill the wall forms with concrete.

The shaft is 152 feet deep and over 720 cubic yards of concrete will be placed once it is completed. It takes approximately a week for the concrete to reach a specified strength before continuing, therefore the concrete work will be completed in 16 foot lifts at a time through March 2013.

Worker signals crane to move concrete bucket into shaft

Top of the Shaft 
Workers in Shaft below with Concrete Bucket

For the San Francisco Giants, teamwork wins championships.  As for our workers, teamwork builds progress for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.  Congrats to both teams!  For more project info, contact us at our 24 hour answer line at (866) 973-1476 or email
Photo Courtesy Fox News

Building Tunnels and Building Lives

Robert Shumate put in the work to go underground

In the fall of 2011, Robert Shumate, a recent graduate of Alameda County’s Cypress Mandela Training Center, attended the Miner Tender Preparedness Program. Shortly thereafter, he put his training to the ultimate test at the New Irvington Tunnel project.  Robert quickly excelled and gained the trust of his peers, learning all aspects of working in extremely challenging and potentially dangerous conditions. Robert came to work each day with a positive attitude and a great work ethic, and within a short period of time, he was not only working on a tunneling project, but IN a tunnel. A feat which surpassed the expectations of his training. In addition to providing a stable income for himself and his family, Robert gained unique work skills specific to mining, making him  a “hot” commodity in the industry and open to a wide range of work opportunities across the nation.

Robert’s success is a testament to his hard work.  His opportunity to shine was made possible by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SPFUC) and Southland Tutor Perini’s (STP) commitment to hire locally for the $4.6B Water System Improvement Program (WSIP).   In addition to Robert, half of the New Irvington Tunnel project’s workforce is made up of local residents meeting the goals of the SFPUC’s local hire program.  This means a portion of the ratepayers investment into improving the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System is also putting people to work in communities where our projects are located.

Whether it is local workers or local small business the 
SFPUC and STP are committed to the San Francsico Bay Area
© San Francisco Public Utilities Commission R. Scheswohl

“Southland is enthusiastic about tapping into the Bay Area’s talented and diverse workforce”, said Michael Cash, Regional Manager for Southland Contracting, Inc. “In addition to exceptional people like Robert, we've also provided nearly $10 million in construction contracts to local small businesses.”

The SFPUC is committed to training future members of the Bay Area’s workforce.  The WSIP goal is to have one apprentice worker for every four journeyman workers on each capital improvement   project.  Tunneling is not an apprenticable trade so this contractor made sure to place junior workers in above ground roles and has exceeded this goal with  32 percent of workers in apprentice positions. 

The Job Training Opportunity Program (JTOP) where  Robert gained his training  is a great example of how the SFPUC, contractors, unions, and community-based organizations partner to create opportunities for local residents to receive the skills, training, and support necessary to help them attain successful and sustainable careers in construction.

Robert Shumate (R) stands tall with Tunnel Superintendent Jack Bowling (L)
Photo by S. Bednarz, ©2012 Jacobs Associates, All Rights Reserved

Robert recently reached another major milestone by completing  all apprentice hours required for Journey-level status! He is now one of the elite mining workers in his union and shares a proud heritage with the many other miners before him.  Congratulations to Robert and all of the other JTOP trainees!

For more information visit the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s local hire program page.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Work at Goldfish Pond Project Site in Santa Clara County

Weekend Work at Goldfish Pond Project Site in Santa Clara County

What: Crews will be working this weekend at the Goldfish Pond Habitat Restoration site in order to complete critical grading work for the project.

Saturday, October 27 through Sunday, October 28, 2012 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What you need to know: 

  • A small crew of workers will be moving material and regrading areas of the project site. 
  • All construction work will be contained on the project site. 
  • No materials will be hauled off-site during this work. 
  • No traffic impacts are anticipated for this work.

For More Info: Please call the toll-free number at (866) 973-1476. For more updates, subscribe your email to our blog feed and visit


The SFPUC has begun construction on several habitat restoration projects throughout the Alameda Watershed in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties.The Goldfish Pond Restoration, located near the intersection of Felter and Calaveras Roads in Milpitas, will enhance and grade the existing Goldfish Pond, rebuild the embankments, plant over 10 acres for the various wetlands and five acres of riparian habitat creation.The Bioregional Habitat Restoration is a unique approach to mitigation that combines the impacts of several different Water System Improvement Program projects into one suite of projects. This pooling of resources maximizes our ability to make significant improvements to habitat for rare and endangered species.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Extended Work Hours at the Irvington Portal

New Irvington Tunnel Project
Extended Work Hours (24 hours-a-day 7 days-a-week)
November 5, 2012 through January 11, 2013

Project Update
Construction on the New Irvington Tunnel Project is more than half way complete! The tunnel will provide a seismically designed connection between our Alameda Watershed and Sierra Nevada water systems and our Bay Area customers. Winter time is upon us, which means it is shutdown time again.

Crews must construct upgrades to this water system while it still serves water to our customers. We need to shut down the pipelines in order to cut into them and weld pipeline connections. We can only do this for short periods of time during winter months when demand is low and we can still meet customer demand. We succeeded in completing a great deal of pipeline work during last winter’s shutdown, and look forward to making progress on this year’s planned shutdown as well. Because the timeline is short, we authorize our contractor to work 24 hours a day to complete the work.

What This Means
Beginning on November 5, 2012 through January 11, 2013, the contractor is authorized to conduct construction activities 24-hours per day 7-days per week at the Irvington Portal in Fremont.

What Can I Expect? 
On weekdays from 7AM to 7PM and weekends from 8AM to 5PM construction activities will be no different from what is currently being experienced. Outside of those hours the contractor can only work on connecting the new tunnel to the Bay Division Pipelines. This work may include welding and surface excavation. The operation of construction equipment (loaders, excavators and cranes) is necessary to complete this work. Worker trips to and from the site at shift changes will also take place.

Will Work Take Place During the Holidays? 
The contractor does not currently plan to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Day. However, they have the ability to work on those days in order to complete their work within the extended work hour period. Residents will receive advanced notice if it becomes necessary to work on those days.

Please call our 24-Hour Answer Line at 866.973.1476 or email

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Look Back at David, Dan and Mikey’s European Tunnel Adventure

New Irvington Tunnel Project Manager David Tsztoo and Construction Manager Dan McMaster were invited to a prestigious tunneling information and technical exchange with their tunneling counterparts in Europe. Since they were on their own time, they invited our Mikey to join them!

From France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy our intrepid travelers went deep underground to see some of the world’s amazing tunneling projects.  Along the way they saw the world’s largest operating TBM in action, toured the premier tunnel equipment manufacturing plant, experienced controlled detonations first hand, and made a lot of friends and contacts in the tunneling industry. 

Check out David, Dan and Mikey’s European Tunnel Adventure:

Where did the adventure begin? Mikey Likes It!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We are Building the Dam!

We are rocking out here at Calaveras Dam.  Not so much to the sound of music but to the sweet sound of haul trucks loading and dumping rock fill.  This week marks a big step towards building the new replacement dam. We dug down to the dam foundation back in August 2012 and we are now officially filling in rock material in the foundation for the new replacement dam. The fill material consists of rocks 30 inches in diameter, being moved at approximately 4,500 yards per day. Our bull dozers are equipped with GPS (global positioning system) units which detects the proper thickness levels as the materials are placed.  The first phase of fill material will be completed at approximately 100 feet.

Haul truck places fill material into the Dam Foundation

Bulldozer uses GPS technology to level rock material for the replacement dam

Rendering of New Replacement Dam with first phase of rock fill being placed
(Not to scale)

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

Be Prepared!

Be Prepared! 

The 23rd anniversary of the freeway-flattening Loma Prieta earthquake is coming up on October 17th. In the event of a similar emergency, will you be prepared? Will you have enough drinking water?

Make This October Emergency Preparedness Month!
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 remember 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 videos and website: or follow @WSIPInTheNews.

Monday, October 8, 2012

First Flight at the Irvington Portal

The Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center cares for injured, ill and sick wildlife found in the Bay Area. The center’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers was our first call when an injured immature red-tailed hawk was found during the construction of the New Irvington Tunnel (NIT).

Irv needed some help so the NIT team called the Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

“Irv” was found with what appeared to be a broken wing (see image) by miners at the start of their morning shift. The crew promptly called our environmental team to determine the appropriate course of action with “Irv.” NIT’s environmental inspectors kept an eye on “Irv” and made sure construction and heavy equipment stayed away until the staff from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center were able to arrive at the site.

Rehabilitating wildlife requires a lot of time and “Irv” spent two months in rehab. Staff and volunteers made sure “Irv” received both the medical attention and training he needed to survive in the wild. The red-tailed hawk is a bird of prey. So, in addition to learning how to fly again, “Irv” had to work on his hunting skills (particularly since he just recently fledged).

The NIT team and Mikey pay a visit to the Ohlone Wildlife Rehabilitation Center NIT Team (L to R): David Tsztoo (Project Manager), Carrie Dovzak (Environmental Inspector), Michael Bumgardner (Project Biologist) and Mikey Ohlone Staff: Sandra and Dave

 “Irv” was released this week near the location where he was found (given that it is probably the area he knows best). The NIT team paid him a visit, said their final goodbyes, and watched as he flew away. Check out “Irv’s” first flight back in the wild:

Irv had a short first flight. After surveying the area for a half hour he took off over the Irvington Portal and headed east. 

We wish “Irv” a happy journey and are thankful to the volunteers and staff at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for helping “Irv” get back into the wild as free-ranging hawk.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center visit In the meantime, meet Wesley - a barn owl who was guest at the center and is now a non-releasable, permanent resident of the Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post #6: 72 hours, 2 tunnels, 3 time zones and countless new friends.

New Irvington Tunnel Project Manager David Tsztoo and Construction Manager Dan McMaster have been invited on a prestigious tunneling information and technical exchange with their tunneling counterparts in Europe. Since they are on their own time, they invited our Mikey to join them…. When last we left them they were in Switzerland.

Friday, Sept. 28: 

Guten Morgen! Or is it Buon Giorno?! You can understand David, Dan and Mikey’s early morning confusion. Crisscrossing Europe can have that effect and the boys had to wake up early to catch two impressive Italian tunnels.

At the twin bore Galleria Sparvo Tunnel near Bologna, Italy, the trio was greeted by a 15.6 meter (51-foot) Herrenknecht-manufactured tunnel boring machine (TBM) – the largest TBM in the world. It’s the equivalent of 51 Mikeys tall!

Most impressive sight? Watching what’s best described as a hovercraft move the 2,500-ton Sparvo TBM. Mikey wasn’t the only one that liked that!

Down the road was the Galleria Val di Sambro Tunnel. Unlike Sparvo, crews used fiber glass pre-excavation face supports and a giant hole-ram to mine the 50-foot diameter tunnel full face. Pre-fabricated steel and shotcrete were installed to support the ground after excavation.

Now for you foodies, dinner was at the rustic Antica Trattoria La Grotta tucked into the hills surrounding Bologna. This fourth-generation family restaurant served our intrepid travelers a multi-course meal that featured slow-cooked braised pork.

Saturday Sept. 29th: 

David, Dan and Mikey’s final day was a mix of technical presentations, sightseeing and fond goodbyes.

In the morning, the trio spent some time with the project managers of the Sparvo and Sambro tunnels and received briefings on current and upcoming tunnel projects in the United States.

The three spent the afternoon on a cultural tour of the historical center of Bologna and shopping for souvenirs. Mikey loved seeing how many old buildings were converted into shops, residential homes, and museums.

Finally, David, Dan, Mikey and tunneling experts from around the world gathered one final time over cheese, pasta and pork tenderloin. It was an evening of sharing stories, exchanging business cards and saying goodbyes to new friends.

Sunday, Sept. 30th:

The journey home started with a 4:00 AM wake up call. With their bags packed and passports in their pockets, David, Dan and Mikey boarded the early morning flight from Bologna. After layovers in Frankfort and London they made the trip back to San Francisco. Twenty-three hours later a very tired David, Dan and Mikey were back home.

Au Revoir. Auf Wiedersehen. Addio. It’s good to be home.

Want go back to where this adventure began?  Check out: Mikey Likes It!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Post #5 David, Dan & Mikey: Having a Blast in Switzerland!

New Irvington Tunnel Project Manager David Tsztoo and Construction Manager Dan McMaster have been invited on a prestigious tunneling information and technical exchange with their tunneling counterparts in Europe. Since they are on their own time, they invited our Mikey to join them…. When last we left them they were in Strasbourg, France.

Thurs. Sept. 27th:

Most travelers to Sigirno leisurely browse through the cultural and natural attractions of this classically Swiss village…world class art museum, the Autumn Festival, or cruising Lake Lugano.

If you’re David, Dan and Mikey you might be looking for a little more action… maybe even explosive!

When our tunnel travelers visited the Alp Transit Gotthard Ceneri Base Tunnel near Sigirno, they weren’t going to find a single tunnel boring machine or road header on site. Instead the railway tunnel is driven in four headings simultaneously using mechanized drill and blast!

Workers prepare for a controlled detonation

Mikey in around the Ceneri Base Tunnel with some new friends

Deep underground a large rapid drilling machine is used to drill about a hundred holes in the tunnel face, and the holes are packed with explosives. When everything is set the detonations blast away several meters of rock off the face, crews remove the blasted rock, and the process repeats for the next round. David and Dan were certainly impressed and well Mikey… he likes it!

After all the excitement the three boarded a bus for the six hour drive to Bologna, Italy. David and Dan took this time to catch up on sleep. Not Mikey, though. He was his fun, energetic self, as usual.

What’s next for the crew? Two twin bore tunnels and a night in downtown Bologna.

Auf wiedersehen!

Before blasting in Switzerland Mikey huddled with the world's premier tunneling experts!