Friday, September 14, 2018

The Rainbow Trout Count

It is that time again. Time for the Trout Count. Biologists with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have been working to estimate the total number of adult rainbow trout living in Calaveras Reservoir.

Sunol biologist Randy Renn trolling for fish on the reservoir.

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are a cold water species native to the rivers and lakes of North America. Like all native fishes, it’s important to preserve them and our ecological systems. Monitoring fish populations is an important part of protecting trout in Calaveras Reservoir.

Here is a good specimen from Calaveras Reservoir.

How do the biologists estimate the rainbow trout population size?

They use a technique known as mark and recapture. During spring, when adult rainbow trout migrate from the reservoir upstream to Arroyo Hondo to spawn, the biologists capture and mark as they can. During summer, after the adult fish move back down into the reservoir, the biologists fish for them and check for tags. Knowing how many trout were originally tagged in Arroyo Hondo, they can use the ratio of tagged to untagged fish caught in the reservoir to estimate the total number that are there.

Pictured here is Scott Chenu SFPUC Sunol biologist, with one of his catches.

Our dedicated biologists will continue track the fish through the end of September. After Calaveras Reservoir is refilled, they will check the population size again to see if there is a difference. 

Periodically tracking the rainbow trout population size is also important because it helps our biologists determine whether they are healthy and thriving or being negatively impacted by reservoir operations.

See you around the valley!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Photo Friday from Sunol Long Term Improvements

Happy Photo Friday!

The team working on our Sunol Long Term Improvements Project has been tasked with constructing a new corporation yard and offices to house SFPUC Water Supply and Treatment and Natural Resources staff near Sunol. These new facilities replace the old corporation yard and buildings, which were aging and in need of upgrading.  The teams housed here operate the East Bay water system as well as monitor the rights of way and 35,000 acres of SFPUC-owned watershed lands.

We dedicate this photo Friday to the tremendous progress the team has made this year.

Here is a view of the new administration building.

Workers are installing a new bioswale to catch and absorb water run off at the site.

And, here is a very modern looking canopy for equipment to be installed outside of the shop.

The Sunol Long Term Improvement Project is 75% complete. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. 

During construction, the Sunol Water Temple will remain closed to the general public.

We hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! See you around the Valley!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thank you, Jordan Erickson

Meet Jordan Erickson. He is a native of Maple Grove, Minnesota and was with us this summer as a student intern. Jordan is currently studying civil engineering at Iowa State University. During the summer. He was an integral part of the Sunol Yard Long Term Improvement Project team. Last week was his last week on the job.

He said that working as an intern for the SFPUC gave him a better perspective on the type of work he'll be doing in the future. One the most valuable things that it taught him was the importance of communication between the contractor and the owner.

When he is not busy working, Jordan enjoys playing sports and hanging out with his friends. We wish Jordan another successful year at Iowa State University.

Jordan is one of dozens of summer interns we at the SFPUC are delighted to host each summer. They are all fantastic, like Jordan. It is extremely important to help support the growth of future leaders in our industry.

The entire staff at the Sunol Yard Long Term Improvement Project would like to thank Jordan for all of his hard work.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, August 17, 2018

An Ode to Cows

Summer is fire season in the Sunol Valley and the Alameda Creek Watershed. And as fires blaze across Northern California, and flare up closer to home, we’re reminded of an unsung cadre of fire prevention specialists on SFPUC lands: Cows.

Cows have grazed the Alameda Creek Watershed since the mid-1800s. Our Watershed Managers at the SFPUC use a twenty-first century approach to this century’s old tool to help minimize fire danger on the 36,000 acres of land we own in the Alameda Creek Watershed.

Our rangeland managers apply sustainable and cutting-edge cattle management practices, an the cows’ hungry habits do a great job of keeping the grasses low, which reduces the potential fuel for fires.

When driving through the watershed, please stay on paved areas and away from high grasses that could catch fire from the underside of your car.

And if, while you’re there, you happen to see any of our four-legged fire prevention team members, say thanks. For all of us.

For more local resources on fire safety:

See you around the Valley! And be fire safe out there.

Members our four-legged Fire Prevention Team near San Antonio Reservior. Their appetite keeps grasses from growing into a fire hazard. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meet the CAT-773

Our work at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project wouldn’t be possible without the help of heavy equipment. Heavy equipment helps our team complete big tasks like moving 12 million cubic yards of rock and earth. Because of the size and scope of our project, we have the privilege of working with some big and cool heavy equipment on our job site.

On any given day we could have approximately 20 pieces of heavy equipment operating. Today I would like to introduce you to the CAT-773

Here is a picture of some of our equipment.

With a full load it can carry 100 tons of dirt or 200,000 pounds of material. This machine can climb steep roads and is very comfortable for the operator. It has a 12-cylinder engine that can reach 42 miles an hour.

John Rocca, Field Operations Manager in front of a CAT-773.

It’s a real life Tonka truck. We have a total of 10 CAT-773’s on site hauling material and getting the job done.

 This equipment belongs to our Joint Venture (Dragados, Sukut and Flatiron), our partners on this project.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Meet Glen Gorski, Lead Quality Assurance Inspector

As the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project starts to wind down, we'd like to focus on some of the key people that have played a crucial role in the construction of the replacement Dam. 

This week we'd like to introduce you to Glen Gorski. He is the Lead Quality Assurance Inspector for the project. A big part of his job is to ensure that the project is being built correctly. 

He and his team 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.  He is a wealth of information and insight and he knows every detail of the dam's construction. If you have a question, Glen will always have the correct answer.

Here is Glen with his team.

Glen has over 40 years of experience in the construction industry. He has quite a resume with two Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering and Geology from the University of Notre Dame and one Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from Notre Dame and a Masters of Science in Business Administration from the University of Indiana. He started his career as a geotechnical engineer for the Scilts Graves & Associates. 

He says that the biggest lesson learned in his career is the importance of "paying attention to the contract." Paying attention to the contract will save you plenty of headaches in the long run. Out of the plethora of projects he's worked on throughout his career he says that the most interesting one is his work at Snoqualmie Falls where he was refurbishing a hydro electric power plant built in 1895.

When he is not working at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, you can find him volunteering at his local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) group, golfing, leading a Boy Scout troop, or spending time with his grandchildren.

Glen enjoying the great outdoors.

The team at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project would like to thank Glen for his commitment to excellence. 

See you around the valley!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Photo Friday - Calaveras

Happy Photo Friday

Here are a couple of shots from the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project taken this week.

The dam itself is growing higher and higher on the lower left. A portion of the existing dam is shrinking lower and lower on the center right as crews excavate the approach channels. 

On the new dam itself, crews use large equipment to transport and compact the materials for the earth and rock fill dam, as well do hand work, such as vacuuming the foundation of clay core of the new dam. Why vacuum? To ensure a solid connection between the core and the bedrock and protect the integrity of the new dam.

Have a great weekend, everyone! And see you around the Valley!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sikorsky 58-JT helicopter at Alameda Creek Diversion Dam

Our teams have used many different kinds of equipment to build a fish ladder and other appurtenances at our Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed Project.

This past Monday, July 9, 2018, however, was a first: crews used a Sikorsky 58-JT helicopter. Why? The project site is remote, and the item to be transported was large.

Specifically, the contractor needed to move a 600-pound electrical box to an abutment of the remote Alameda Creek Diversion Dam. The helicopter picked up the electrical box at the staging area, located at the cattle corral and then lifted it to the left abutment of the Diversion Dam, which is located on SFPUC-owned property adjacent to the East Bay Regional Park District's Sunol Regional Wilderness.

A Sikorsky 58-JT  Helicopter makes quick work of transporting a 600 pound electrical box to the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam

The operation took just 20 minutes.

The Fish Passage Project is located in Sunol. The goal of the project is to provide for safe passage of fish around the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam to support the restoration of the Steelhead Trout to the Alameda Creek Watershed. 

The Alameda Creek Diversion Dam is visible in the distance. The electrical control building is located to the left. The project is at 92% completion and is expected to be finished this fall. 

The project is part of the SFPUC’s $4.48 billion Water System Improvement Program.

See you around the Valley!

Attention Sunol Regional Park Users:
Camp Ohlone Road will be closed to the pubic
Monday, July 16th-Wednesday, July 18th
Plan on using either Canyon View or Estes Trail 
to get to Little Yosemite.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Meet Manny Yeboah

Meet Emmanuel (Manny) Yeboah. Manny has been an employee of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) for over 10 years. He started his career with the SFPUC's Bureau of Environmental Management preparing categorical exemptions and mitigation monitoring reports. Currently, Manny is an Office Engineer for the Fish Passage/ACDD project and a Project Construction Manager for the Sunol Nursery Project. As a Project Construction Manager, Manny ensures that the project is running on time, on budget and that the Contractor’s operations comply with the contract specifications, drawings and permits.

He and his team are responsible for constructing the first nursery project of its kind for SFPUC. The Sunol Nursery Project is a $2.2 million dollar project located within the Sunol Temple yard. The new Sunol Nursery encompasses 1-acre and includes construction of new water storage tanks, garage, office building, shade house and a state of the art greenhouse structure with a cooling pad system. The purpose of this project is to propagate plants for the Alameda Creek Watershed Center, Sunol Yard and other SFPUC projects. The project is scheduled to be completed by October 2018.

Manny enjoys his role as a Project Construction Manager. When asked about his role as a Project Construction Manager he stated, "It’s a huge accomplishment to be in this position, I’ve worked hard throughout the years and now my goals are coming into fruition with me running an innovative project for the SFPUC."

Manny is no stranger to construction projects. He has worked as an office engineer for over 6 years and has a degree in Urban Studies Regional Planning from Cal State Northridge. When he is not working, Manny enjoys going to new restaurants, working out, and spending time with family.

If you ever see him around the valley, don't hesitate to say hello.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What's the Big Deal about an Approach Channel?

We are building a new earth and rock fill Calaveras Dam right next to the existing 93 year-old dam (directly downstream of the existing dam as they say in the dam industry.)  As many of our previous blog posts have been tracking, we have been busy building the new dam, foot by foot, from the bottom up like a layer cake. A very large layer cake.

Our Calaveras cake is high enough now to allow us to begin to excavate out the approach channel to the new dam this week.

"What is an approach channel?" you ask. An approach channel is a breaching of an existing dam in order for its adjacent reservoir to come in contact with it. We will remove a portion of the existing dam (500,000 cubic yards of it to be exact) to allow reservoir water to eventually fill in the space between the old dam and the new dam. The old dam will look like a peninsula in the reservoir when the project is done. 

"Why not remove the old dam in its entirety?" We don't have to. Complete removal would be expensive, environmentally difficult, and not necessary to operate the reservoir. 

The start of excavation of the approach channel means that we have reached a high enough elevation with the new dam to safely begin carving out a huge chunk of the existing dam. It's a coming of age for the new dam, if you will. A significant milestone. 

Here is what the approach channel looked like at the beginning of last week.

And, here is what it looks like this week.

The channel will be lined with large rocks called rip rap to protect it from erosion so the channel will be ready when we start to refill the reservoir this fall.

Approach channels may not seem exciting at first glance, but we at the SFPUC are thrilled!

See you around the valley!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Photo Friday at the Bay Division Pipelines

Happy Photo Friday!

We've been neglecting the Bay Division Pipelines in our East Bay Photo Series. So we thought we'd celebrate this Photo Friday with a couple of construction shots - from 1966.

Five Bay Division Pipelines transmit Hetch Hetchy and East Bay supplies through our two Irvington Tunnels to our 2.7 million Bay Area Customers.  Bay Division Pipelines 1,2, and the newest addition - 5 connect to a brand new water tunnel under San Francisco Bay on their way to the Peninsula.

Pipelines 3 and 4 pass through the South Bay overland on their way to the Peninsula. 

As you can tell, these are large pipelines. They are also crucial to our water transmission system.

We can't blame those kids. We think they're pretty cool, too!

See you around the Valley!

Monday, June 4, 2018

SFPUC Project Team Leads National Discussion about Dams and Ecosystems

In early April members of the Fish Passage Facilities project team went to Miami, Florida to present at the 38th United States Society of Dam’s (USSD) Annual Conference on behalf of SFPUC. This year's conferences theme was A Balancing Act: Dams, Levees and Ecosystems. It focused on the importance of environmentally sustainable water projects within diverse and sometimes fragile ecosystems.

Our Fish Passage Facilities team were selected to present their paper called "Fish Passage Facilities at the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam, Final Design and Construction Update."

The Fish Passage Project is located in Sunol.  The goal  project is to provide for safe passage of fish around the Alameda Creek Diversion Dam to support the restoration of Steelhead trout to the Alameda Creek Watershed.  The project is part of the SFPUC's $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) to repair, and seismically upgrade portion of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water Sytem. Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2018.

Below is a photo of our fabulous four presenters: Eric Gee, Project Manager, Yen Ng, Engineer and Karl Tingwald, (former AECOM) civil engineer and Dan Wade, Director of Water Infrastructure Capital Projects and Programs.

We want to congratulate the Fish Passage team members for a job well done.

See you around the valley!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

In observance of Memorial Day, our construction teams at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, Fish Passage Facilities within the Alameda Creek Watershed (within EBRPD's Sunol Regional Wilderness) and the Sunol Valley Long Term Improvements (Water Temple) will not be working on Monday, May 30th.

Here is a photo of one of our D4 Dozer's working on the dam’s core at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

We hope all of you have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

See you around the valley!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Happy Infrastructure Week 2018

The Week of May 14 to May 21st is national Infrastructure Week! This is the week where public agencies across the nation highlight the importance of our nation’s infrastructure, and the need to maintain it.

At the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, our ratepayers had the foresight more than 10 years ago to allow us to pass the $4.8 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP). The program has 87 projects, spanning seven counties, to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade aging portions of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. To date the program is more than 90% complete.

A tremendous amount of work was done in the Sunol Valley to ensure a seismically reliable water supply for our Bay Area customers.  The Calaveras Fault runs right through the Sunol Valley. The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project is the largest WSIP Project in construction, but there have been many others. Here are the highlights:  

Alameda Siphon #4. A high tech pipeline crossing of the Calaveras Fault designed to survive an earthquake. Completed 2013.

New Irvington Tunnel. A new seismically designed tunnel to connect the new Siphon with new pipelines in Fremont. Tunnel brought into service in 2015.

Upgrades to our Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant to enable the plant to provide minimum demand to all of our 2.7 million customers on its own for up to 60 days. Completed 2015.

A complete new Bay Division Pipeline #5 to connect the New Irvington Tunnel to a new Bay Tunnel and the Peninsula. Completed 2016.

We've been posting videos on Facebook all week to highlight the SFPUC's efforts to upgrade your infrastructure. And at Twitter: #TimetoBuild. See the Facebook posts  here.  

See you around the Valley!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Friday - Lupine at Calaveras Dam

Happy Photo Friday from the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project!

The hillsides in the Sunol Valley are still green this time of year, and wildflowers are blooming, including at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.

Robin Scheswohl, our fabulous SFPUC photographer, captured this beautiful photo. You can see the new dam being constructed in the background and blue lupine in the forefront.

Construction of the dam itself is expected to be completed this year, with site restoration to follow.

See you around the Valley!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fossils from the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project Find their New Home

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has been working since 2011 to build a replacement Calaveras Dam out of seismic concerns for the existing 93-year-old dam in the Sunol Valley.

To make space for the new earth and rock-fill dam, the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project has had to move almost 10 million cubic yards of soil and rock. While moving all this earth, the project team began to find what has been called one of the greatest fossil finds in the Bay Area in decades.

To date more than 1,300 specimens have been discovered. Most them are fossils from an ancient ocean and beach area approximately 15 to 20 million years ago. Water covered much of California back then, and an inland ocean extended to the Central Valley.

Many of the fossils are high-quality specimens that can be used to further research into evolution or global change. (UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Amongst the vertebrate fossils are marine mammals, like baleen whales or Mysticetes and toothed whales and dolphins or Odontocete; and Desmostylus, an herbivorous hippo-like marine mammal), seals or sea lions, sharks, and bony fish, such as halibut.  The invertebrates include scallops (some as big as a dinner plates), clams, snails, cockles, mussels, crabs, and barnacles. The team believes it has found a new species of whale among the dozens of whale skulls found.

Researchers have pieced together the jawbone from a 15- to 20 million-year-old whale. 
(UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Researchers can tell this area was near to shore because they have also found plant material that washed into the ocean from land, including pine cones, palm trees, leaves, and wood. They can tell that the Bay Area was warmer back in this time, and the ocean teemed with life.

Through an agreement between SFPUC and the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) the entire collection of fossils will now be housed within the UCMP collections. The fossils represent California’s fossil heritage and as such, belong to all the citizens of California, and will be managed on their behalf by the University of California Museum of Paleontology. 

The UCMP assembled a team to manage this collection, including a Lab Manager – Dr. Cristina Robins, many undergraduate students, two graduate students per semester, and volunteers.

Graduate student Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith uses a brush to spread adhesive over a fossil found during the Calaveras Damn replacement project. (UC Berkeley photos by Sara Yogi)

Dr. Robins and her team painstakingly chip away the rock from the fossilized bone to identify each specimen. It is laborious work. They often find new specimens inside the rock blocks around other specimens. More fascinating fossil discoveries lay ahead for the UCMP team.

Fossils waiting to be released from rock fill the small lab located at UCMP.

And we at the SFPUC know the fossils are in excellent hands.

See the video and read more here:

See you around the Valley!

Friday, April 20, 2018

ENR’s 2017 Top News Maker Award Winner: Susan Hou

Every year, Engineering News-Record (ENR), a construction industry magazine awards 25 people in the United States for their outstanding work in the construction field. To select ENR Newsmakers, ENR’s editors search the magazine’s web and print pages for individuals who had served the “best interests of the construction industry and the public.”(ENR Website). This year, Susan Hou, SFPUC's East Bay Regional Project Manager was chosen to be a recipient of this prestigious award.

Susan Hou

Susan joined the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project in 2011 and become its project manager in 2013. She has guided the team through many challenges. Through her leadership and collaboration, Susan kept the team on track.

Susan Hou with CDRP's Managment Team

Congratulations Susan!

See you around the Valley!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Come Join us at the Wildflower Festival!

The hills are green and the flowers are in bloom in Sunol. This is a perfect opportunity to come out to the East Bay Regional Park District's Wildflower Festival to learn more about the flora and fauna of the region.

When: Sunday, April 8, 2018 from 10 am 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. Learn more at

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 to see you there!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sometimes Construction Methods Don't Change

Image courtesy of
(place image here)

The photo below was taken in 1918-- when the first Calaveras Dam was being constructed.  These workers are excavating in the dam's foundation.  They're using using 4-mule carriages(4-horsepower) to do the job. Each power train (4-mule carriages) transport approximately 4 cubic yards per load at a speed of 1 to 2 mph. 

Fast forward a hundred years.  The photo below was taken at the new Calaveras Dam as workers were excavating the new core.  The workers in this photo are doing the same job with a Caterpillar Motor Scraper with a 450 horse power engine capable of carrying 30 cubic yards at a speed of 25 to 30 mph.

Although times have changed, sometimes the methods don't.  

See you around the valley!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Carpenters Hard at Work

Today’s photos were taken by SFPUC photographer, Robin Scheswohl, inside the construction project to rebuild our Sunol Corporation Yard, which is located near the Sunol Water Temple.

While on site, Robin caught sight of a few of the approximately 11 carpenters who are working to build the structures for the new hub of East Bay water system operations for SFPUC staff. 

Here's a glimpse of their hard day's work.

Carpenter welding steel framing inside one of our buildings.

Here's one of our talented carpenter’s welding a piece of steel.

And, here she's installing the steel framing.

The Corporation Yard will be home to our Water Supply, Treatment East Bay Operations and Natural Resources Personnel. Improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2018. During construction, the Sunol Water Temple will be closed to the general public.

See you around the valley!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sunol The Bobcat is Back!

In the late summer of 2016, our team found this cute bobcat kitten alone and abandoned on the embankment of the replacement Calaveras Dam under construction.

Image courtesy of W.E.R.C

Our Environmental Inspector, Bill Stagnaro and Geologist, Carrie Dovzak, arranged for the kitten to be transferred to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (W.E.R.C) in Morgan Hill, California. The W.E.R.C Center has a world-renowned bobcat kitten program. This program ensures that single orphans such as Sunol, as she was later named, do not become habituated during their time in care. They help socialize the orphan and reinforce bobcat behavior, such as hunting and stalking techniques.

Sunol was recently released, with the permission from California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and the Park Rangers.  During her release, she was given plenty of water, prey, and cover to help ensure her long-time survival.

Image courtesy of W.E.R.C

Image courtesy of W.E.R.C

Bobcats, also called lynx rufus, are found throughout the United States. They are nocturnal animals that hunt small rodents. Many people confuse them for mountain lions even though they are much smaller.

We wish Sunol a very happy life in her native home.

See you around the valley!

For more information on the Bobcat rehabilitation program at W.E.R.C go to:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Winter at Calaveras Dam

There is plenty of work happening during this winter season at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.  Although our construction team is not working on the dam’s embankment, they're keeping busy with other important construction projects that need to be completed before spring. Here is a glimpse of the work in progress.

Our team is working hard to construct some of the support facilities. Support facilities such as: the stream maintenance vault, the downstream toe electrical building and all of the electrical equipment are needed to operate the outlet works.

V34 Vault

Electrical Panels for Stream Maintenance Vault

Electrical Panel in Downstream Toe Building

Our team continues to prepare the left abutment foundation. Part of this job entails removing a temporary tieback retaining wall. This temporary tieback retaining wall was needed during the construction of the spillway to support an ancient landslide.

Tie Backs

During the past two weeks, our team has been working hard installing the last of our piezometers. For more information on our internal and external instrumentation, reference our November 7, 2017 and December 15, 2017 blog posts.

Drill Rig for Insturmentation


Our crew is working hard to finish these projects before the spring time. As you can see, there is a lot of activity happening in the winter months.

See you around the valley!