The 3-Minute Interview: “There were hundreds of water mains broken”

Bill Teahan

The superintendant of construction and maintenance at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was working as a field plumber in 1989.

What were your initial duties after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck? We had a massive power outage in The City, so one of the first things I had to do was haul up a diesel pump and we used that to move water from one reservoir to another until the power came back on by about 9 o’clock at night.

What did you do after dealing with the power outage? Myself and my partner were reassigned and went down to the Marina district, where we spent the next three weeks. I would say 90 percent of the field staff, including plumbers, truck drivers, engineers and laborers were all assigned to the Marina district.

What did you do in the Marina? There were hundreds of water mains that were broken — hundreds. I replaced water lines, so I’d replace broken sections of mains. On the smaller lines, which feed the houses, we replaced the whole water mains.

Would you expect similar damage in the Marina if a similar quake struck today?
No, because 8,000 feet in the Marina district have been replaced with ductile iron pipe and more durable lateral lines.

Was that the busiest time you’ve worked at the SFPUC since you started in 1980? Yes — without a doubt.

— John Upton

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

A Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with homeless people along Jones Street in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed proposes another street outreach team to divert calls away from police

San Francisco would launch a new street outreach team to respond to… Continue reading

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

A worker sets up irrigation lines to water almond tree rootstocks along Road 36 in Tulare, Calif. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Gov. Gavin Newsom extends drought emergency to 41 California counties

Faith E. Pinho Los Angeles Times In a stark indication of California’s… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stimulus plan on Monday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner file photo)
More Californians would get new $600 stimulus checks from the state under Newsom plan

Sophia Bollag The Sacramento Bee Two-thirds of Californians would get an extra… Continue reading

Most Read