Thursday, November 8, 2012

Celebrating Sunol Valley History

This past weekend, the East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Pioneer Folk Festival hosted music, square dancing, horse rides, vintage arts and crafts, and us!

SFPUC staff really enjoyed sharing historic photos of the water system in the valley with attendees, many of whom already knew a great deal about our current efforts to upgrade this system for future generations.

We also tested attendees’ knowledge of local water system history. Here is a sampling of questions to your own knowledge!

1. In 1898, Spring Valley Water Company, the predecessor of the SFPUC, began drilling wells under what nearby East Bay Valley?

Answer: Livermore Valley. 100 wells, the first of which was drilled in 1898, drew water that was transmitted to Sunol via a pipe installed in 1909. The SFPUC stopped using the well field in 1949 to replenish the groundwater basin for the overlaying landowners. The water is still used by the City of Pleasanton and Zone 7.

2. We are busy constructing a replacement dam to the existing Calaveras Dam as we speak. True or False: the replacement dam is the THIRD dam to be constructed in this location.

Answer: True. The original dam, started in 1913, was constructed using a technology that had never been used on this sized dam before. The dam collapsed while the reservoir was being refilled in 1918. Spring Valley Water Company had to rebuild it using a different method. They left portions of the original foundation in the dam, however, which is why we have to rebuild it completely.

3. The existing Irvington Tunnel began construction 1928 and now provides water to 2.6 million Bay Area residents.  What yummy Bay Area tradition also began in 1928? 

Answer:  IT’S-IT ice cream treats.  Created by George Whitney it was sold exclusively at San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach for over four decades!  So when the miners at the existing Irvington Tunnel needed a day at the beach they probably had an IT’S-IT.

Attendees check out historic artifacts excavated at the
Calaveras Dam Replacement Project this past year

Historic Photo of the Sunol Valley Pump Station located on Calaveras Road
November 3, 1966. Seismic retrofits of the pump station were recently completed.

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

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