Firefighting water in PUC hands

The deteriorating network of pipes, cisterns, intake valves and reservoirs that push water through hydrants and hoses to put out fires around The City has found a new caretaker.

While the 96-year-old Auxiliary Water Supply System still belongs to the Fire Department, the Public Utilities Commission has all but taken over the maintenance of the system at a cost of about $2.4 million a year, though voters may be asked to approve a bond for more repairs.

The agreement is largely a cost-saving measure, and will end up diverting money to The City’s general fund. The PUC’s water enterprise is funded through the water rates that come in from about 2.4 million water customers. A contract to make the move official is being negotiated.

Thirteen Fire Department staffers, plumbers and stationary staff who have already worked on the project will now work for the PUC, according to PUC spokesman Tony Winnicker. The utilities agency is conducting its own evaluation of the system.

As the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake approaches, officials have been looking at restoring and expanding the system in anticipation of another earthquake. A study released earlier this year laid out a number of weak spots in the system and called for an overhaul.

The system isn’t the only way to get water on fires. In the Loma Prieta earthquake, several fires in the Marina district were extinguished with the help of a portable water supply system, along with a boat that pumps salt water onto flames, according to the report.

The 1989 earthquake also caused five breaks in the SoMa area because of liquefaction and lateral earth spread.

An overhaul of the system is estimated at $87 million, and officials planned to fund the project with a bond measure that was meant for the November ballot. The proposition never made it there, however, and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd has called for a hearing on the feasibility of a bond initiative in June 2010.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area Newsfire hydrantsLocalneighborhoodsSan Francisco

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Gombojav Zandanshatar said his country and San Francisco face similar challenges on issues including COVID recovery and climate change.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Mongolian leaders meet with tech, film leaders on city tour

‘I really want San Franciscans to meet the new Mongolian generation’

Most Read