3/31/2011--Water supply fix under way
By Bill Silverfarb
San Mateo Daily Journal
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission launched a $320 million public works
project yesterday to improve the water delivery system from Hetch Hetch to the Bay
Area. The outlet tower water officials stood on yesterday will eventually be demolished
and submerged under the water line.
A massive $320 million public works project is launching in San Mateo County to
improve the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System and water deliveries for more than 2.4
million people living in the Bay Area.
The four projects beginning construction on the Peninsula are part of the San Francisco
Public Utilities Commission’s $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program and
include upgrades to the Crystal Springs reservoir system, water treatment plant and
Work on the projects should take four years to complete.
Later this year, SFPUC should reach the peak of construction activities on a multitude of
projects to seismically retrofit the entire water-delivery system.
The SFPUC provides water for San Francisco residents and 27 other wholesale
customers, including the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency.
Most cities on the Peninsula partner together to purchase water through BAWSCA. In
San Francisco, residents approved a bond measure in November 2002 to fund more than
80 projects to improve the system but San Mateo County residents will pay for the
projects through rate increases.
Next year, the SFPUC will charge its wholesalers at least 41 percent more for water and
by 2021, water rates will double for all of its customers.
“Without these projects, in case of a major earthquake the Bay Area could be without
water for 30 to 60 days. The community won’t survive,” said BAWSCA Chief Executive
Officer Art Jensen.
System improvements would get water running back to the Bay Area within 36 hours,
“It is well worth the money for health, safety and economic well-being,” Jensen said.
So far, the SFPUC has delivered most of its projects on time and on budget, Jensen said.
Built in the early- to mid-1900s, many parts of the system are outdated, with critical
portions crossing over or near three major earthquake faults, according to the SFPUC. In
2002, the SFPUC launched the improvement project to repair, replace and seismically
upgrade the system’s deteriorating pipelines, tunnels, reservoirs, pump stations, storage
tanks and dams that carry water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National
Park to the Bay Area.
“The devastating earthquake in Japan is a sobering reminder of the need to have a
seismically secure and reliable drinking water system,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed
The San Andreas fault runs right through the middle of the Crystal Springs reservoir,
The SFPUC held a groundbreaking yesterday at the end of Skyline Boulevard and Crystal
Springs Road where two outlet towers that draw water out of the reservoir are slated to be
demolished and ultimately submerged under the water line. The towers were built in 1891
Additional work in the area includes upgrades to the spillway and parapet wall at the top
of the Lower Crystal Springs Dam built in 1890, according to the SFPUC.
“When you live in California, you understand earthquakes,” said Carole Groom,
president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. “There is no more important
work than seismic upgrades to public infrastructure.”