Special Edition: a Guest Blog from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission about the Water System Improvement Project

Several weeks ago, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) took DEM on a tour of the various projects associated with the Water System Improvement Program. Thanks very much to SFPUC for sharing the story of the tour on the DEM Blog.


On December 14, 2011, SFPUC took leaders from several emergency preparedness and response agencies on a day long tour of various project sites of the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP). The tour demonstrated the SFPUC’s efforts to upgrade its regional water distribution system to withstand major seismic activity on any of the three major fault lines the system crosses.

From left: Mary Ellen Carroll - SFPUC Emergency Planning Director, Bijan Karimi, - SFDEM, Anne Kronenberg- SFDEM Director, Steve Ritchie - SFPUC Assistant General Manager Water Enterprise

Funded by a San Francisco voter-approved bond measure in 2002 and wholesale customer base, the $4.6 billion, WSIP is implementing long-lasting improvements to our aging water infrastructure. Built in the early to mid-1900s, many parts of the system are nearing the end of their working life, with crucial portions crossing over or near to three major earthquake faults. The WSIP aims to improve water quality, reduce seismic vulnerability, increase system reliability, enhance sustainability, and provide improvements related to water supply/drought protection. As SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington often says, “Nothing less than the public health and safety of 2.5 million people and the economic viability of the Bay Area depend on the successful completion of the Water System Improvement Program.”

DEM’s Bijan Karimi and Anne Kronenberg

Participants in the tour included: Director Anne Kronenberg and Emergency Services Manager, Bijan Karimi from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, representatives from the California Seismic Safety Commission and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Acting Secretary Mike Dayton from California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA). The guests toured to seven different WSIP sites, including the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant, New Irvington Tunnel, Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant, and Bay Tunnel, which will be the first tunnel built under San Francisco Bay. At each project site, the group met with SFPUC representatives to talk about seismic safety and infrastructure security related to the projects.

At the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant , the tour stopped for coffee and a heard an overview WSIP presentation from Julie Labonte, WSIP Director. During the tour, SFPUC Assistant General Manager for Water Steve Ritchie and SFPUC Emergency Planning Director Mary Ellen Carroll discussed the agency’s efforts to improve our hazard mitigation and emergency preparedness and response as we work to insure the delivery of our exemplary drinking water, especially after a major disaster.

Far right: Acting Secretary Mike Dayton, CalEMA

Recent blog posts from DEM’s visit to Van, Turkey to see the devastation of the recent earthquake serves as a reminder of how we must all better prepare our communities and especially our lifelines, such as drinking water, for the next big earthquake.

*For more information about the Water System Improvement Program and seismic improvements, please see this recent KQED Quest video.


About sfdemkristin

A strong believer that we are more prepared than we think, Kristin advocates it is not a looming disaster that inspires us to prepare, but rather the peace of mind that comes from having taken a few simple steps in advance of an emergency to take care of our loved ones. Kristin can be found on Twitter @kristinlhogan.

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Recovery, Resilience, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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