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Dam work hits milestone
April 18, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal San Francisco Mayor Mayor Ed Lee and San Mateo County officials lauded critical work to the Lower Crystal Springs Dam yesterday that will store billions of gallons of drinking water needed when the next big earthquake strikes the region.

Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal San Francisco Mayor Mayor Ed Lee.


With today marking the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed much of San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee and San Mateo County officials lauded critical work to the Lower Crystal Springs Dam yesterday that will store billions of gallons of drinking water needed when the next big earthquake strikes the region.

Recent project completions include improvements to the San Mateo County dam, tunnels and pipelines that will preserve the ability for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to deliver water to its 2.6 million regional customers in case of an emergency.

The $4.6 billion bond-funded project to improve the Hetch Hetchy water system should be completed by 2016, said Ed Harrington, SFPUC’s general manager.

After the 1906 earthquake, city officials pushed hard for the building of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley, which provides water to most of the Bay Area.

Today marks the 106th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake.

"More than half of San Francisco burned down as a result of the devastating fire that ensued after the 1906 earthquake. This event led to the building of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System nearly 100 years ago — a system we are investing in now to protect our Bay Area people and economy,” said Lee.

The project is on time and on budget, said Adrienne Tissier, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Tissier started an emergency preparedness program in San Mateo County after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans seven years ago. The region should not just be prepared for an earthquake, Tissier said, but any other disaster that strikes the region including a drought.

Increasing the capacity for water in the reservoir by 3 billion gallons will also help the region prepare for population growth and new development, she said.

The Lower Crystal Springs Dam was built in 1888 and survived the 1906 earthquake and Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

Now, in the case of "any seismic event, water would be restored within 24 hours,” said Lee, who also praised the job creation made possible by SFPUC’s Water System Improvement Program.

The Upper and Lower Crystal Springs Reservoirs, Pilarcitos Reservoir and San Andreas Lake serves as the primary storage facility for emergency backup and supplementary water supply for the entire San Francisco Peninsula.

Following the infrastructure upgrades in the dam area, San Mateo County will rebuild the Skyline Bridge over the dam.

Major projects currently in construction include the first tunnel under the Bay and a new seismically-reliable dam in Calavaras.


Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.



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