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.