Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Wildflower Festival Draws Crowds to Sunol Regional Wilderness

This past weekend, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) joined an estimated 1,000 attendees at the 2017 Spring Wildflower Festival, hosted by the East Bay Regional Park District.

The beautiful sunshine, wildflower blooms, nature hikes, and live music drew families from all over the Bay Area to Sunol Regional Wilderness. Over 300 kids stopped at the SFPUC resource booth to create their very own personal paw print necklaces while staff shared information to residents about our Sunol Valley projects underway including the Sunol Yard upgrade, construction of the Fish Passage Facilities Project within Alameda Creek Watershed and the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

We hope that you were able to experience this awesome event and enjoy the wildflower season as much as our staff did. See you around Sunol Valley!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Join Us at the 2017 Sunol Wildflower Festival

It is wildflower season in the Sunol Valley! Come enjoy the wonderful blooming flowers at the annual Sunol Wildflower Festival hosted by our friends at the East Bay Regional Park District.

When:  Sunday, April 9, 2017 from 11am to 4pm
Where: Sunol Regional Wilderness, 1895 Geary Road, Sunol, CA
Cost:    Free admission ($5 parking)

The festival is a fun family day out.  Learn about watershed animals, wildflowers, and grasslands. Enjoy the beauties of spring in one of the East Bay Regional Park District’s crown jewels at the Sunol Regional Wilderness.

We at the SFPUC are looking forward to it. Stop by and visit us at our booth. Get the latest and greatest information on all of our ongoing projects. Flaunt your Alameda Creek Watershed knowledge and win a prize! Fun crafts for the kids. 

We hope you see you on April 9th where the wildflowers grow!

For more information about the festival, visit

Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring at San Antonio Reservoir

Happy Photo Friday!

Anybody passing through the Sunol Valley these days can't help but notice that spring has sprung.  The hillsides are vibrant green. Wildflowers are starting to make their colorful appearance. 

And SFPUC Watershed Keeper Pat is out on the watershed, as usual. Today's Photo Friday is courtesy of Pat, who shared this early morning picture from San Antonio Reservoir.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Photo Friday From the Fish Passage Project on Alameda Creek

Happy Photo Friday, Everyone!

Ever wonder what a fish ladder looks like from the inside?

You are about to find out, courtesy of our Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed Project. The project's goal is to support the restoration of steelhead trout to the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed by building a fish ladder around the SFPUC's Alameda Creek Diversion Dam, in addition to other fish-friendly improvements on the structure.  

Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2018.

Workers pouring a concrete slab for the Fish Ladder.

A member of the construction crew examines the rebar to reinforce the fish ladder.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Celebrating Amazing Women Near You

Just this week, we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. March is also the beginning of National Women's History Month. In honor of the contributions of hard-working women everywhere, we wanted to highlight a few fabulous women who happen to work at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project whose daily contributions ensure the success of this critical project. 

Eunice Lee, Field Engineer, Sukut Construction

As an alumna of the UC Irvine Civil Engineering program, Eunice has been working on heavy civil construction projects since 2010.  As part of the contractor’s team, Eunice is a field engineer who specifically oversees the installation of geotechnical instrumentation and the permanent power system for the future replacement dam.  Eunice truly enjoys being a part of this team working with so many experts and experienced individuals to build something great. 

Karene Salaam, Project Controls Analyst, Black and Veatch

Staff who make important contributions to the project don’t always work in the field. We have a team of people whose task it is to track project costs and spending. On a job the size of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, this is no simple task. Karene Salaam is part of the Construction Management team and oversees the preparation of cost reports, progress charts, manpower plans, equipment and material costs and project schedules.  Her careful review and analysis ensures the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has close financial oversight of all project spending by the construction contractor and the subcontractors.

Carrie Dovzak, Geologist, Environmental and Naturally Occurring Asbestos Compliance MonitorSan Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)

Carrie Dovzak has worked for the SFPUC for 10 years, the last 6 1/2 of it working on Sunol Valley projects. It is Carrie's job to monitor construction activities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and protections. She studied geology after traveling the world with her family - a perk of her father working for Pan American Airlines. After graduating, she mapped landslides in Northern Italy before returning to the U.S. to join her family. She continued her studies in Engineering Geology and Environmental Education at San Jose State and Hayward State. "Everyone should take a few classes in geology, you see the world in a completely different way!" she insists.

Ritu Gyawali Giri, Senior Engineer, Piping and Pipeline, Sukut Construction

Ritu Gyawali Giri is part of the outlet works team. She and her team focus on the new piping and pipelines that allow the SFPUC to take water out of the reservoir to our customers. She began in the construction industry in 2002, as a Site Engineer in Nepal. She has worked on projects all over the world, from Asia to Africa to the United States. Ritu relishes working through the geographical and environmental challenges to build the new Calaveras Dam. She is delighted to be a woman engineer working at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Day in the Life of a QA Inspector

Meet Minh
Minh Nguyen is one of our QA inspectors working at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. On a chilly morning in Sunol Valley, he is typically one of the first team members on-site with a coffee in hand.

What is a QA Inspector? A Quality Assurance (QA) inspector is someone that ensures the project is being built correctly. They are tasked with observing and reporting that quality control measures are effective, so that the entire dam project is being constructed to the expectation of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“Divide and conquer,” is the motto Minh likes to personally use every morning when the team of QA inspectors report to each of the major activities on site. The QA Inspectors pair themselves with a Quality Control (QC) inspector as they observe activities such as placing materials into the dam, cleaning and preparation of rock, installing rebar, and testing of materials used to build the dam will meet specific quality standards. Communication is of vital importance between the QA and QC because they all need to agree to the same level of quality. When Minh is not performing QA Inspection at Calaveras Dam, you can find him playing a game of flag football, rock climbing, backpacking in the wilderness, or just hanging out with friends on the weekends.

Minh working on inspection of the Stream Maintenance Building

Friday, February 24, 2017

From Acorns to Oaks

What do we see here looking down this plastic tube?

These are acorns collected from the Sunol Valley. For what you ask? We are planting over 150 Oak trees at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. As a commitment to the environment, the tree plantings are part of our mitigation to restore oak woodland at our project site. We are also committed to re vegetating all areas with annual grassland where oak woodland is not appropriate. 

Among the species being planted are the Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and the Blue Oak (Quercus douglassii). Historically, oak trees are slow growing and can take as long as two to three decades before they begin to provide significant shade. Winter is an ideal time to plant to allow the tree to focus on root growth. 

Some oaks can send a tap root down as deep as five feet in the first year of growth. To help the acorns sprout, and to avoid being dug up by squirrels and birds, they are placed in the plastic tubes right into the ground. The tubes also protect them from hungry herbivores –like deer - and provide a great micro climate for the trees to thrive. 

The next photo shows our oak tree plantings in an area we are no longer working in, the left abutment of the dam, located at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. 

See you around the Valley!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What is this Building and What Does it Have to do with Fish?

Despite the recent heavy rains, the crews at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project have been pouring concrete for an important feature of the future Dam – the stream maintenance building, pictured below.  The new building stands 25 feet tall and is located downstream at the toe of the future replacement dam.

We at the SFPUC will be releasing water from the future Calaveras Dam to support fish in the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed.  What’s that have to do with this building?  A lot, actually.  The stream maintenance structure provides a place for water discharged out of the future Dam to be collected and then discharged in a controlled manner to the nearby Creeks to support fish habitat. Water will flow from the reservoir to the structure via two 30 inch diameter pipes. Water will exit the structure over grouted rip rap to prevent erosion.

The Calaveras Dam Replacement project is more than 80% complete and expected to be completed in mid-2019.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Getting By with a Little Help From Our Friends

We do not need to tell you that now is the rainy season in Northern California. Some amphibians in the  Sunol Valley use the the wet season to move around from their burrows to breeding habitat and to find food.

Recently one of the workers at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project spotted this California newt  passing through the construction site. On its back a Sierran Tree frog was hitching a ride. Who can’t relate to a time when you need a lift to get where you’re going?

Our workers are trained to spot wildlife like this and move them out of harm’s way for construction… hitchhiking or not.

Stay safe and dry out there! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Photo Friday in the Sunol Valley

Today we thought we’d combine two blog traditions - Photo Friday and Throwback Thursday.

Here’s a photo of how we used to transport water transmission pipe when Calaveras Dam was under construction in 1912.

Here’s a more recent example from a Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) project elsewhere in the Sunol Valley in 2012.

The water system that serves our customers is almost 100 years old in places, and less than 1 year old in others.  We will continue to upgrade crucial portions of the system through the $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program and beyond through our 10 year Water Capital Improvement Program.

Have a great weekend everyone. See you around the Valley! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Photo Friday: Bobcats on Calaveras Road

Here is a recent photo taken by our Watershed Keeper Pat in Sunol Valley. It was a reminder about the amazing wildlife out here in the Alameda Creek watershed and to keep a look out for them on the roads.

Just a reminder that due to storm damage, Calaveras Road remains CLOSED to all types of thru traffic 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, between Geary Road and Oakridge Road near the Alameda/Santa Clara County line.

Under normal conditions and the construction schedule, Calaveras Road would be open to thru traffic on weekends and holidays. However, at this time the road will remain closed every day to all traffic until further notice.

The entrance to East Bay Regional Park District's Sunol Regional Wilderness will be open at all times from the north.

Visit for more details and for a map of the closure.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What's on Tap in Sunol Valley?

The New Year has brought much needed rainfall to the Sunol Valley. Despite the winter weather, our teams are continuing the important work to seismically upgrade the facilities that deliver drinking water to 2.6 million Bay Area customers. These projects are part of the $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP). The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is the owner and operator of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. In addition, other work, such as work on the Alameda Creek Watershed Center and upgrades to our Sunol Yard, are also underway this year. 

Calaveras Dam Replacement Project

Work is still underway to replace the existing dam with a seismically-robust dam in order to restore its historic storage capacity. Rebuilding this dam and filling the reservoir is crucial to the reliable water supply of our customers. Over seven million cubic yards of earth and rock materials have been excavated. We have started to construct the new dam. Crews have constructed a new tower and shaft with five adits which connect outlet pipelines to the reservoir. The new 1550 ft spillway was completed in April 2016. The dam and all the outlet works have been designed to withstand the force of a 7.25 magnitude maximum credible earthquake from the nearby Calaveras Fault. The project is over 78% complete.

Due to recent storm impacts, portions of Calaveras Road remains closed to the public on 7 days a week. Please visit for more specific details regarding the closure.

Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed

Construction for the Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed began earlier in 2016. The Calaveras Reservoir collects water from Alameda Creek by means of the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam (ACDD), a 1.8-mile-long Alameda Creek Diversion Tunnel from other streams that flow directly into the Reservoir.

The project will improve the current facility and develop fish passage facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed. This important work will support restoration of steelhead trout to the Watershed. The project will construct a fish ladder to facilitate fish passage around the existing Alameda Creek Diversion Dam. The project is approximately 30% complete and project completion is expected in Fall 2018.

Alameda Creek Recapture Project

The proposed project would recapture a certain volume of water that would be released and bypassed at Calaveras Dam and Alameda Creek Diversion Dam. The recaptured water would be pumped from an existing quarry pit (Pit F2) in the Sunol Valley, downstream of the compliance points for the bypasses and releases below the ACDD and Calaveras Dam, respectively.

The project would utilize the natural infiltration of water into the ground in the vicinity of Pit F2, and the recaptured water would be transferred to the SFPUC water system via either the San Antonio Reservoir or the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant. The recapture operation would be conducted within the SFPUC’s existing pre-1914 appropriative water rights. 

The Draft Environmental Impact Report was released in November 2016. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2017 and last for approximately 18 months.

Sunol Yard & Alameda Creek Watershed Center

Construction of upgrades to our Sunol Corporation Yard (located on SFPUC lands near the Sunol Water Temple) are expected to begin in February 2017 and last approximately 22 months.  

Please note that the Sunol Water Temple will be closed during construction to protect the safety of members of the public passing through the area. The Sunol AgPark will remain open to farmers during construction.

Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol and work on the Education Master Plan for the Center continues in 2017. The Center design continues to undergo value engineering, and results are expected in early 2017.  Construction of the Native Plant Nursery for the plants that will be in the new Sunol Yard and Watershed Discovery Trail at the Center will also begin in 2017.

Thursday, January 12, 2017




Effective January 12, 2017, a full closure of Calaveras Road to all types of thru traffic 7 days a week, 24 hours a day between Geary Road and Oakridge Road – near the Alameda/Santa Clara County line. 
This is due to storm damage along this stretch of road. Under normal conditions and the construction schedule, Calaveras Road would be open to thru traffic on weekends and holidays. However, this is no longer the case, and the road will remain closed every day to all traffic until further notice. 
Please avoid this area and use alternative routes.

The portion of Calaveras Road just south of Geary Road (location of entrance to Sunol Regional Wilderness) to Oakridge Road – near the Alameda/Santa Clara County line.

The closure will take place 7 days a week starting on January 12, 2017 and will remain in place until further notice. We are working with local responding agencies on this issue, and will keep you informed as we get additional information.

Please note: the entrance to East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Regional Wilderness will be open at all times from the north.

If you have any further questions, feel free to call our toll-free 24 hour answer line at
(866) 973-1476.