How reliable is our SFPUC water system?


Most San Franciscans know that something is going on at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Especially with the over $4 billion Capitol Improvement Project that includes the neighboring counties which get the best of the Hetch Hetcy deal. This is not new to some of us but the SFPUC Commissioners have just been shocked by the news. I doubt Mayor Gavin Newsom has been told about the final outcome.

When San Francisco constituents decided to vote for the total over haul, replacement, and due maintenance of the Hetch Hetchy system what they had in mind was an 7.0 plus magnitude earthquake that they knew would devastate the Hetch Hetchy operations. They did not want to be victims but they may have to live with reality when they learn the final outcome.

The Hetch Hetchy system has its roots with the Raker Act. The Raker Act that sent men like John Muir to his grave flooded the Sacred Valley that the Miwoks revered. It damned the rivers and caused havoc to nature - tress, plants, birds, fish, and all living beings. Most of all it numbed the souls of the Miwoks - warriors who kept the Hetch Hetchy Valley and surrounding areas pristine. We must always remember the land and the valley was stolen from the First People - the Miwoks.

The Raker Act mandated that the resources water and electricity were meant for San Franciscans and the Municipalities. The neighboring Bay Area counties, the counties with large irrigation areas like Tulare, neighboring dams, and a host of contracts along the way to San Francisco all saw that San Franciscans were not adversely impacted. At least reading all the documents that is what I gathered. We also have newspapers and books which all can be found in our Main Library in San Francisco and other leading libraries all over the United States. I remember reading some in Washington DC. The paradox is that the worst enemies were San Francisco's leaders and the various Mayors. Over the years the Mayors dipped into the General Fund and spent the money that Hetch Hetchy brought in. Maintenance was differed and the aging system that relies on gravity to bring the best drinking water all the way to San Francisco was left to rely on destiny and crude fate.

It is a miracle that the various tremors and the two large earthquakes since 1906 did not wreck havoc with the Hetch Hetchy pipes, the pump stations, the tunnels, and most of all the large dams holding the precious water. Today as experts reveal the details of the aging system the present Hetch Hetchy operators, Susan Leal, the SFPUC Commissioners, the SFPUC officials are all aghast. Reality has come home to roost.

The crux of the problem is that the constituents of San Francisco do not fully realize the impact of the Capitol Improvement Project. When the over $4 billion is spent to improve the system most of the folks outside San Francisco will get the best insurance as far as clean drinking water is concerned. San Franciscans at the tail end will get what we always get, less - but with a better delivery system.

San Franciscans will get the water but not as much and not in greater quantity. Even with the Capitol Improvement Project and all its benefits in palace if San Francisco experiences an earthquake of the magnitude 7.0 and larger - we in San Francisco will be without water for months. These are facts that we have not all been told.

We must remember that there is no guarantee that the over haul of the pipes, the dams, the pump stations, the reservoirs will be intact. What we have going for us all is a better-revamped system rather then a system weak from long forgotten maintenance and repairs.

Today millions of gallons leak and we have no way on knowing where. In the future much of these leaks can be saved and we will hopefully know of major leaks using current technology and monitoring systems. It is my personal belief that this major $4 billion Hetch Hetchy project should be headed by an Engineer. Woman or man is does not matter but the person should be an Engineer. It is a shame that we have Susan Leal who has no clue and pretends by speaking in generalities that she has some purpose of mind that in based in generalities. At this time she is shooting arrows in the air hoping that they will land on some target.

Susan Leal and her cronies are poised to lead this major $4 billion project down the drain. It only can be saved by removing her from direct engineering evaluations, time lines, and innovations which she has been delegating to those who she thinks she can trust and who are newbies. Susan Leal has also hurt the feelings of many by surrounding herself with lesbians who have no experience whatsoever.

At a recent workshop on Hetch Hetchy and the Clean Drinking Water System Reliability the presentations by Paul Maaza, the Regional Water Operations Manager and Derrick Wong, Olivia Chen Consultants revealed many facts that San Franciscans should know. I requested the salient facts be posted by the SFPUC website so that San Franciscans know what really is happening with this major Capitol Improvement Project linked the Hetch Hetchy and more with Quality of Life Standards.

SFPUC continues to listen to Ton Irons one of the Deputy General Managers and Michael Carlin the Planning Director. As the project gets into the nitty gritty of things these two men will have to step out to the plate and make critical decisions. These decision will be linked to engineering concepts some of which will be very risky but critical. At times like this the Manager or Director of SFPUC should understand the concepts. Fiscal experience has nothing to do much with critical engineering concepts that affect the lives of millions.

San Franciscans must remember that the Hetch Hetchy system as we see it today serves better the people and the area before it reaches San Francisco. Millions of gallons of precious drinking water go into swimming pools, are flushed down the toilet by the filthy rich who live in homes that are very large and in mansions, corporations and companies use millions of gallons of water and pay little compared to the average San Franciscan resident. Millions of gallons of precious water are used to cool down systems at Nuclear Plants, old aging power plants, firms that make computer chips, the hotel industry, golf courses, and many other facilities with little or no transparency and accountability. Most of these scumbags get rebates while poor folks have to pay extra.

It is just a matter of time when the Controller of the City - men like Ed Harrington and Harvey Rose will evaluate the system and reveal the facts. However I strongly feel that the Federal Bureau of Investigation should be part of the $4 billion Capitol Improvement Project to better evaluate Health and Safety procedures which are dismal to say the least.

The Hetchy Hetchy system today serves the needs of millions and justly so but it also panders to entities that do not pay their fare share. This is blatantly wrong and calls for an investigation. It is also wrong to use Sacred Water from the gods of the Miwoks and have entities pollute the watershed after its end use.

In San Francisco we continues to build thousands of units where clean water is polluted and further pollutes the watershed with its leaking pipes and the Bay. The Phelps Raw Sewage Treatment Plant continues to kill our children and the SFPUC cannot find a solution to the stench that has been there since the late 1970s. Our White journalists and filthy rich benefactors could not care less if children of color and people of color die or are chronically ill.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bay Area Air Quality Board, the San Francisco Health Department, the San Francisco Fire Department, the San Francisco Police Department, and several other Federal, State, and local agencies have failed to take the SFPUC to task.

This includes Homeland Security and Anne Marie Conroy who has yet to have a disaster plan for the Southeast Sector with all the toxic power plants and other facilities that generate toxins. In case of a major spill in the air, land, or water - the community will suffer. This happened in 2000 when a toxic fire at Hunters Point burned for 3 weeks and the no City authority took any notice of the Southeast community at large. Today we have some corrupt Community Based Organizations talking about a toxic spill but none of them have the ability to evacuate say 20,000 of the over 70,000 population that will be affected in the most focused toxic areas.

Our City Administrator Bill Lee has some focused knowledge about the Southeast Sector and could help. So could the SFPD and Federal Emegercy Management Agency, the SF Health Department, Homeland Security and the National Guard. We cannot call the United States Sixth Army and Presidio of San Francisco anymore. In former times the Army did come to our rescue and that includes the 1989 major earthquake. I was there and no what I am talking about.

SFPUC has not taken its duty monitoring the Quality of Life Issues in the City and County of San Francisco seriously. It has NOT worked with the City Planning to address our heavily tasked infrastructure, the toxins released, and the adverse impacts all over the City to our watershed, the land, air, and water. Our Bay is daily polluted with over 180 millions gallons of half treated sewage. There have been instances when raw sewage has been pumped into Islais Creek. This is a fact.

Our Force Main at Islais Creek by Marin and 1800 Illinois Street is damaged and has been leaking for the last 3 years.

If the constituents of San Francisco passed the proposition years ago to build the Cross Town Tunnel why has this project not been initiated? We would all have been enraged if the proposition to build the Hetch Hetchy system was passed and then shelved? SFPUC has its priorities all screwed up.

Right now it is critical that the major time lines be kept on track and that the constituents of San Francisco be told in simple terms where we stand as far as the major projects are concerned. Our saving grace may be the large reservoirs such as the University Mound that serves the Financial District and is situated in the Portola District by San Bruno Avenue and Bacon. Time to revamp and upgrade these systems built long ago by men who were engineers and had a vision.

It is a shame today we have unqualified people anointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom who have no clue. It is just a matter of time when the senseless and those who know will collide. Of course the foolish will fade away like chaff but do we have the corn that will save the day and the people of San Francisco?

Finally we must never forget that the resources we enjoy today and tomorrow and yesterday belong to the Miwoks. We stole it from them.

I know the engineers who build the largest gravity driven water system in the world are laughing and wondering that a day has come when clowns who have no experience and knickers galore and messing with the lives of all San Franciscans and more.

Link to "The Raker Bill"

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