Monday, December 23, 2013

Meet One of Our Operators

Please allow us to introduce an indispensable member of our SFPUC staff – Tony Scott. Tony is the Acting Chief Stationary Engineer at the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant, which is our East Bay drinking water filter plant. Tony and his staff oversee the treatment of drinking water from San Antonio and Calaveras Reservoirs before it reaches you, our customer.

                                     Tony stands proudly in front of the facility he has worked at for 18 years.
When Tony walks around the Plant his eyes are constantly on alert, inspecting everything around him. He checks in with staff to make sure all is running smoothly and that there are no surprises. “One of my mentors told me that every day you come to work here – our water treatment certification is on the line,” says Tony. “It is our responsibility to perform well. That always keeps me in a state of readiness.”

Tony has worked at the Plant for 18 years, and during that time he has pulled his fair share of holiday duty. Providing drinking water is a 24/7 operation, so a small team is always at the Plant, rain or shine, holiday or not. They monitor the quality of the water coming into the Plant to make adjustments in the treatment process if need be. Those on the night shift take advantage of the lower water demand on the Plant in order to check the instrumentation, do preventative maintenance on plant equipment, and fill out the extensive reports required by our regulators. Tony says that working at night and over the holidays can take some getting used to. But, he says, “The operating staff knows that this is part of their job.  They understand they need to get the job done.” Each holiday shift usually pulls together for a holiday potluck for dinner or a breakfast at the end of the shift.
 
Tony and his staff work 24/7 so we all can enjoy these special holiday times with family and friends and never have to worry about our drinking water. So, thank you, Tony and the staff at the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant!

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and here’s hoping that the Plant staff have a lovely holiday meal in the Plant’s tiny kitchen!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Late Night Visitors


First thing in the morning, our team of biologists head out to the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project construction site to inspect for animals that may have wandered onto the construction site overnight. The inspectors help to ensure that none of the rare and endangered species in the area end up in the path of the day’s construction activities. 

Sometimes they find critters that need to be taken off site to a safe place. In fact, to date, our environmental inspectors have relocated western pond turtles, Alameda whipsnakes, California tiger salamanders, and many other species to a nearby, safe habitat away from construction.

Other times they find evidence that something passed through, but didn't stick around. This last week, our inspectors found the paw print of a mountain lion at the edge of a water holding pond. Also known as a cougar, puma, or panther, mountain lions are solitary predators of other large mammals, such as deer and elk.  Males can weigh up to 200 pounds, while females could reach 140.

Glimpses of these creatures have been seen by project personnel, but thankfully, none of our biologists have encountered the feline while making their rounds. But it serves as a reminder that we are not alone out here in the watershed, and we must continue our vigilance to help protect the animals and plants in the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed while we continue with construction of this important water reliability project. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Calaveras Dam Replacement Project reaches 70,000 Safe working hours


Today was not just a typical work day at Calaveras Dam.  It was a day to acknowledge safe working practices since the project reached over 70,000 safe working craft hours since May 2013.  

Rebuilding the dam continues to be a challenging project with the complex geology and location of the Calaveras Dam nestled in the pristine Alameda Creek watershed.  Our laborers have been working diligently to seismically upgrade the dam since construction began.  To date, they have much to be proud of including completion of major adits and tunnels to the new intake structure, completion of grouting operations on the right abutment, and moving over 4 million cubic yards of materials for dam construction.  Most importantly, the team focuses on performing all of this work safely.

A joint venture of Dragados USA / Flatiron Construction / Sukut Construction serves as the contractor for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.  The  Calaveras Dam Replacement Project is part of the Water System Improvement Program which provides drinking water to 2.6 million Bay Area customers.


Friday, November 22, 2013

New Irvington Tunnel Roadheaders Get Well-Deserved Break

They worked an average of 20 hours a day, 5 days a week for two and a half years; grinding away at rock hundreds  of feet underground. And now, they’re finally getting the rest they deserve.

The three road headers that helped excavate the New Irvington Tunnel were removed from the tunnel last month after we holed through from tunnel headings and they are now out in the fresh air and resting after completing the excavation of the three and half mile-long tunnel.  The largest of the group is a Mitsui Miike which weighs in at 57 tons. The two Antraquip roadheaders each weigh 36 tons. 

What lies ahead for our three tunnel veterans? All three machines could be refurbished for use at future jobs. 


While the workhorses await their future fate, work continues to complete the New Irvington Tunnel. Crews will begin installing the steel lining soon. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2015.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Join Us at the Sunol Cowboy Hootenanny Folk Festival this Saturday

This past weekend, for the second year in a row, the Sunol Regional Outreach Team participated in the East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Cowboy Hootenanny Folk Festival at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness Park! The event celebrates folk and pioneer history in the Sunol Valley with live music, vintage arts and crafts, square dancing, horse rides, food and more.

We really enjoyed sharing photos of our agency’s long history in the Sunol Valley. A clear favorite among booth visitors was a display of 20 million year-old fossils unearthed during construction of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Many visitors already knew a great deal about our current efforts to upgrade the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System for future generations and about the Alameda Creek Watershed. Let’s see how much you know!

Below is a sampling of questions to test your own knowledge. Don’t peek at the answers!

1. What did the average house cost when the San Antonio Pump Station was built in 1965?

2. Who was the original designer of the first Calaveras Dam?

3. Currently, miners in the New Irvington Tunnel use a handheld gas detector encased in rubberized armor with ultra-bright LED alarms to detect dangerous gases. What did miners use in the existing Irvington Tunnel?


At the festival we tested attendees’ knowledge of local water system history along with some historical trivia.

Answers:

1. Answer: $14,000. We recently completed work to upgrade it and make it more reliable in case of an earthquake, because it is the literal and figurative heart of our water conveyance system in the Sunol Valley.

2. Answer: The original Calaveras Dam was built by California’s most famous water engineer, William Mulholland. In 1913 Mulholland supervised construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brought the water from Owens Valley that enabled Los Angeles to grow into the nation’s second-largest metropolis.

3. Answer: A Canary. Canaries were once regularly used in tunneling and mining as an
early warning system. The phrase "canary in a coal mine" is frequently used to refer to a person or thing which serves as an early warning of a coming crisis.
 
View of the Sunol Water Temple from 1922.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Geary Road Bridge Installed in Sunol Ohlone Regional Wilderness Park


The bridge, the very same as in the project’s title - Geary Road Bridge Project -- is here! Using a large crane, the contractor carefully lowered 50-foot-long bridge sections down onto the concrete piers that were already secured at both ends of the bridge. Now crews will focus on completing the bridge deck, the roadway approaching the bridge on both ends and installing all the bridge guardrails. The bridge is scheduled to be open to the public at the end of October.

This new concrete and steel bridge will further protect Alameda Creek at this location by eliminating the need for vehicles to drive through Alameda Creek at the low-water crossing. This project is taking place within East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Ohlone Regional Wilderness, and the area surrounding the bridge will be restored after construction is complete later this fall. 



Monday, October 21, 2013

Quenching Thirst at the 2013 Sunol Glen Walk-a-Thon

Run, walk, and fill-up on water. Quenching the thirst of more than 250 children, ranging from pre-school to eighth grade, became the main focus during the 2013 Sunol Glen School Walk-a-Thon a few weeks ago.  Not only were the kids thirsty for water, but also thirsty for information and asked questions like, “Where does this water come from?” or “Is this really Hetch Hetchy water?”.

With several large Water System Improvement Program projects under construction just a few miles away from the Town of Sunol, the Sunol Regional Outreach team is always looking for opportunities like this to be involved with the community and the walk-a-thon was a perfect way to do just that.  We also provide drinking water to more than 160 residences in the Town of Sunol.

Again this year, our volunteers from the Water Supply and Treatment Division provided the famous ‘Got Water?’ truck and staff joined us to help distribute water to the walkers. Aside from a few mud splatters here and there, the system was a big hit and the kids loved refilling their own water bottles from the spigots. A special thanks to Dean Tdosa and Mike Ishman from the Water Supply and Treatment Division who were there to help keep the students hydrated.

The Sunol Glen Walk-a-Thon happens every year in October, and students have earned more than $350,000 for their school since the Walk-a-thon started 20 years ago. We look forward to being part of this Sunol Glen School tradition for years to come!

Photos:

   SFPUC Team members helped distribute water and even some of the youngest participants enjoyed drinking Hetch Hetchy water. 
                                                                          Unique water spouts helped quickly distribute water to thirsty walkers. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Month

The First 72 Hours 
October 17, 2013 marked the 24th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.  Therefore, this October we would like focus on emergency preparedness. The first 72 hours after an emergency are often the times when community members come together to help each other out. If we prepare beforehand, we’ll be better off when an emergency occurs. 

What can you do?
Meet with your family, neighbors and community organizers to get connected, develop a plan and share resources. One of the best ways to be prepared is to get involved with the Alameda County Fire Department's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program that serves the cities of San Leandro, Dublin, Union City, Newark and the Unincorporated Areas of Alameda County. 



Alameda County CERT
The purpose of CERT is to train people living in Alameda County to take care of themselves, their families and their neighbors in the event of a disaster. After several large-scale disasters such as 9/11, the Oakland Hills Fire and Loma Prieta Earthquake, there was a realization that not all emergency services personnel will be able to reach everyone right away. Therefore, communities may have to tend to their own minor emergencies before help arrives. Check out the Alameda County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)'s Blog for more information about training opportunities and tips. 

Other Resources include the following: Alameda County Fire Department and Alameda County Office of Emergency Services.   

SFPUC is Preparing Too
Our community members are not the only ones getting prepared. We at the SFPUC has been improving and renovating our regional water system to ensure that our customers receive a safe and reliable water supply when they need it the most – after an earthquake. Recent upgrades to the water transmission system in the Sunol Valley have increased our ability and operational flexibility in case of a disaster. The promise of the multi-billion dollar Water System Improvement Program is to provide minimum day demand to our customers within 24 hours of a major earthquake within our system. 





Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Milestone Breakthrough for the New Irvington Tunnel

Roadheader breaks through for final hole-through on October 8th

On October 8, 2013 at precisely 9:00 a.m. two crews of miners from the New Irvington Tunnel project met underground with their roadheader digging away at the last final feet of rock.  Miners celebrated the final hole-through excavation of the 18,660 foot tunnel.  The 3.5 mile New Irvington Tunnel will transmit water between the Sunol Valley and Fremont to our 2.6 million Bay Area customers. Work is still not quite done yet, our miners will prepare the new tunnel for installation of 8.5 ft diameter steel pipe, installed in 50-foot sections and welded together inside of the tunnel.  This will be followed by the placement of cellular concrete between the steel pipe and tunnel wall to complete the project in mid-2015. 

 

Hole-Through Challenge Winner: Priya Iyer
With that, we also would like to congratulate our Hole-Through Challenge contestant.... Priya Iyer! Priya selected the winning time and date of the hole-through and will be receiving our prize package.  Congratulations to Priya!

Our hardworking New Irvington Tunnel crew


                                      Tunnel Superintendents Jim Mulkey and Jack Bowling from 
                                      Southland Contracting share a handshake after the hole-through.

New Irvington Tunnel Project Staff celebrates Hole-Through

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Irvington Tunnel Neighbors compete in the Final Tunnel Hole-Through Challenge at Open House

Last week, neighbors of the New Irvington Tunnel project stopped in for a cup of coffee and to hear the latest updates on tunnel progress at Mission Coffee House in Fremont.  Attendees were able to discuss construction progress, see new project photos, handle some rock samples collected from tunneling, and participate in the final "hole-through" challenge. 

 Residents participate in the Tunnel Hole-Through Challenge

We are still anticipating the exciting moment when the miners will meet underground between the tunnel segment from Vargas East to Alameda West Portal.  The winner will be notified to receive their gift basket of local goodies as soon as the day comes.  Thank you to all who have participated in the New Irvington Tunnel Hole-Through Challenge!  

Our final guesses are shown here:
For more project info, please email mle@sfwater.org or call our 24 hour answer line 866-973-1476.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One more week to play! New Irvington Tunnel Challenge


Sometime in the next few weeks, two teams of miners will meet hundreds of feet underground. One is excavating the New Irvington Tunnel eastward from the Vargas Shaft near I-680; the other is working its way west from the Alameda West Portal in Sunol Valley.

When will they meet?
Guess correctly and you could win a wonderful prize pack featuring gift certificates to local businesses!

Need a little help?
As of September 14, 2013, our miners have tunneled 5,044 feet east from Vargas and 8,758 feet west from Alameda West. In ideal ground conditions, crews have tunneled an average of 130 feet per week. When ground conditions are poor they excavate less than 20 feet. We have 405 feet left to go to hole-through as of September 14, 2013.

How to Play

The chart squares shown below correspond to a possible date and timeframe when the tunneling teams will meet. Selections already submitted by contestants are indicated by a “star “.
  1. Choose three squares and e-mail your choices to: mle@sfwater.org
  2. If your first choice is available, then you will be assigned that square. If the square is unavailable, then the next available choice is assigned. You will receive an email confirmation with your selection.
  3. Include the date and time you think the hole-through will take place. Squares will be assigned on a first come, first serve. Only one square is allowed per person
  4. Please include your name, phone number and e-mail address so we can contact you if you make the winning selection.
  5. Submissions will be accepted through September 29, 2013.  GOOD LUCK!



New Irvington Tunnel Project Background
The SFPUC is constructing a new 3.5 mile long tunnel to transmit water between the Sunol Valley and Fremont. The New Irvington Tunnel has been excavated from four different tunnel headings. The first two headings met each other in June 2012. This second and final ‘hole-through’ will mark the completion of excavation of the entire 18,660 ft tunnel. Following the hole-through, miners will prepare the tunnel for the installation of 8.5 ft diameter steel pipe, installed in 50-foot sections and welded together inside of the tunnel. This is a major milestone as the final project completion is near!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your Challenge - When will our Tunnels Meet?

Sometime in the next few weeks, two teams of miners will meet hundreds of feet underground. One is excavating the New Irvington Tunnel eastward from the Vargas Shaft near I-680; the other is working its way west from the Alameda West Portal in Sunol Valley.

When will they meet?
Guess correctly and you could win a wonderful prize pack featuring gift certificates to local businesses!

Need a little help?
As of September 14, 2013, our miners have tunneled 5,044 feet east from Vargas and 8,758 feet west from Alameda West. In ideal ground conditions, crews have tunneled an average of 130 feet per week. When ground conditions are poor they excavate less than 20 feet. We have 405 feet left to go to hole-through as of September 14, 2013.


How to Play

The chart squares shown below correspond to a possible date and timeframe when the tunneling teams will meet. Selections already submitted by contestants are indicated by a “star “.
  1. Choose three squares and e-mail your choices to: mle@sfwater.org
  2. If your first choice is available, then you will be assigned that square. If the square is unavailable, then the next available choice is assigned. You will receive an email confirmation with your selection.
  3. Include the date and time you think the hole-through will take place. Squares will be assigned on a first come, first serve. Only one square is allowed per person
  4. Please include your name, phone number and e-mail address so we can contact you if you make the winning selection.
  5. Submissions will be accepted through September 29, 2013.  GOOD LUCK!

New Irvington Tunnel Project Background
The SFPUC is constructing a new 3.5 mile long tunnel to transmit water between the Sunol Valley and Fremont. The New Irvington Tunnel has been excavated from four different tunnel headings. The first two headings met each other in June 2012. This second and final ‘hole-through’ will mark the completion of excavation of the entire 18,660 ft tunnel. Following the hole-through, miners will prepare the tunnel for the installation of 8.5 ft diameter steel pipe, installed in 50-foot sections and welded together inside of the tunnel. This is a major milestone as the final project completion is near!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Feeling Steamy at Calaveras Dam

Among many other fascinating geological features present at the Calaveras Dam project site, a geothermal steam vent has recently been exposed during construction. Although typically associated with volcanic activity, steam/gas vents are also frequently found near large active faults, like the Calaveras fault, which is within 1/4 mile of the project site. There is also evidence of past geothermal activity in the vicinity of this vent. As seen in this photograph, there are areas of hydrothermally-altered bedrock (gray sandstone stained yellow) and holes where former vents, now dormant, were once active.

The construction team continues to monitor the temperature and the gaseous emissions of the present feature, and has created a cautionary exclusion area around it, but, as seen in this video, there has been no adverse effect to construction activity. We will keep you posted on our findings!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Rim Fire in Yosemite and a Sunol Valley Update

The Rim Fire, which started in the Stanislaus National Forest on Saturday, August 17th, has been widely reported during the past week. The fire has spread to 179,481 acres as of this writing, and more than 3,000 personnel have been dispatched to combat the fire. As of this writing, the fire is 20% contained.

The fire has since spread into the Tuolumne Watershed, and the environs of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is the source of 85% of the drinking water we provide our 2.6 million customers. There continues to be no change or impact to water quality or delivery from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. We continue serving high quality water to our customers.

The water delivery system and the recent upgrades completed in the Sunol Valley as part of our multi-billion dollar Water System Improvement Program have increased our ability to continue to serve our customers even during such an event as this. Why?
  • Hetch Hetchy water is being pumped to San Antonio Reservoir in the Sunol Valley as we speak to ensure we have as much water here in the Bay Area as possible, in case Hetchy supplies should become unavailable to us.
  • The pumps that send Hetchy water to San Antonio and to the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant were recently upgraded as part of the San Antonio Pump Station Upgrade.
  • The Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant Expansion and Treated Water Reservoir upgraded filters and outlet works at the plant, and recently finished construction of a new treatment basin.
In short, should Hetchy supplies become unavailable to us because of the Rim Fire, or need to be treated, we have completed enough infrastructure upgrades in the Sunol Valley to filter and provide 160 million gallons of water a day to our Bay Area Customers for up to 2 months.

This incident underscores the urgency to complete the remaining water system upgrades in the Valley: New Irvington Tunnel, San Antonio Backup Pipeline, and a replacement Calaveras Dam.

So, when the next large incident occurs -- we will still be ready!

For up to date information on the rim fire, please visit sfwater.org/RimFire.


San Antonio Pump Station









Water being filtered at the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Less than 1,000 feet to go!

It’s an exciting time here for the New Irvington Tunnel Project team.  As of August 14th, we have 886 feet of mining left to go!  The hole-through of the entire 18,860 ft tunnel is expected sometime this Fall 2013.  After we hole-through, construction is not quite done yet.  Miners will start preparing the tunnel for the installation of 8.5 ft diameter steel pipe, installed in 50-foot sections and welded together inside of the tunnel. We anticipate final completion of the New Irvington Tunnel at the end of 2014. Upon completion of the seismically-upgraded New Irvington Tunnel, the SFPUC will take the existing tunnel out of service for an inspection to assess the need for future maintenance and repairs.

We plan on hosting an Open House for the project on September 25, 2013.  All are invited to see our tunnel progress and project updates. Stay tuned for the invite!

For more information on the New Irvington Tunnel Project, subscribe to our blog, or call our 24 hour answer line at 866-973-1476 or email mle@sfwater.org

Tunnel workers pouring invert concrete

Vargas East Final Steel Liner looking west



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Did you feel that shake?

We sure did here out in Sunol Valley at our construction sites!  A small earthquake struck on July 15, 2013 at 12:02 p.m., which measured at a 3.4 magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

According to the USGS, the epicenter was located 7 miles east of Milpitas and 9 miles northeast of San Jose, at a depth of 5.3 miles below ground.  The earthquake was triggered by the Calaveras Fault. This active fault is located near to, or in some cases underneath, crucial water infrastructure in the Sunol Valley, including: the  existing Calaveras Dam,  the treatment plant that filters water from the valley for our customers, the pump station that transmits water to and from the plant, and the major pipelines that transmit water from the Sierra Nevada and the Alameda Watershed to our Bay Area customers.

Why does this matter?
This is a reminder to us why our work to seismically upgrade these crucial water transmission facilities through the Water System Improvement Program is so important.  We work every day to ensure that we can provide water to our customers within 24 hours after an earthquake.
·         We recently constructed a fourth seismically-designed pipeline that crosses the Calaveras Fault to survive after an earthquake
·         We completed seismic upgrades to the nearby San Antonio Pump Station
·         Upgrades to the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant are nearly complete.
·         Construction of the New Irvington Tunnel and a replacement Calaveras Dam are underway.

Our system is more reliable today than it was 10 years ago. And it will be much more reliable, still, 10 years from now.

We hope that the earthquake we are planning for never happens. But if it does, we will be ready!  To learn how to make yourself and your family ready, visit 72hours.org



Crews completed work on the Alameda Siphon #4 Project in 2010, which crosses directly over traces of the Calaveras Fault.



The New Irvington Tunnel will provide us a new 3.5 mile seismically upgraded tunnel.  Workers are seen here standing a set in the new tunnel and expect final tunnel hole-thru this Fall 2013 with completion at the end of 2014.



Calaveras Dam is being replaced to provide a new earth and rock fill dam restoring the historic storage capacity of the dam to 96,850 acre feet (31 billion gallons of water) and will withstand a credible earthquake from the Calaveras fault. 

 
During construction at the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant, crews drilled almost 1,200 piers underneath the new treated water reservoir to anchor it into the hillside in case of an earthquake on the nearby Calaveras fault.

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Celebrating Summer at the Sunol Water Temple


With the sun shining, a soft breeze moving through the Valley and the Sunol Water Temple as the backdrop…. it was the perfect June afternoon in Sunol. For those who stopped by to join us, it was not only a chance to socialize with neighbors, but an opportunity to engage in lively conversations with SFPUC team members about the construction work in the Valley. Guests were able to play with rock samples from the Calaveras Dam, learn about future fire system upgrades for the town, marvel at historic photos of the Valley, check out a conceptual model of the proposed future Watershed Center, and even test their knowledge of the Valley by answering a trivia question to win a prize!

Thank you to those who were able to attend our summer open house! See you all around the Sunol Valley!