Despite Public Safety Power Shutoffs, Water Service Continued to Flow
In 2019, new regulations by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorized energy companies to turn off power to avoid or reduce the risk of wildfires. Known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff, this safety precaution impacted homes, businesses, and utility services like Cal Water, because water utilities need power to treat and deliver water.
By October, it was estimated that 3 million people across California had lost utility-provided electrical power due to a power shutoff. At one point, more than 60 of our stations were without electrical power simultaneously. But, during all of these power shutoffs, our customers never lost water service.
This reliability did not happen by accident. Whether it’s a power shutoff or a power outage, our water systems are carefully planned and designed to meet or surpass industry standards. And, we always strive to work closely with local fire agencies and energy companies to ensure we can provide a reliable supply of safe, high-quality water from the source to the tap.
During this year’s power shutoffs, we put our emergency response training to good use by making extensive preparations to help keep our Customer Centers open for business and water flowing to customers. This meant activating our Emergency Operations Centers and bringing in our operational, engineering, water quality, and other experts and resources statewide. These resources included portable generators, booster pumps, and emergency trailers, in addition to our highly trained team members across the company, who were on the ground and in the field for every power shutoff.
Knowing how essential communication is with our customers, we also provided important updates about the water system and customers’ water service through calls, text messages, and emails, using the contact information we have on file. And, we used this web site and social media channels (@CalWater) to keep the community at large, city leaders, and local news media informed of any important updates.
Public safety power shutoffs will continue to be a challenge to every water utility in the state. At Cal Water, we are committed to being as prepared as possible to minimize any water system impacts to our customers and continue to provide you and your family with safe, high-quality water for your every day and emergency needs.
In the face of these challenges, we have partnered with our firefighters and emergency responders. While most people run from danger, these brave men and women run toward it. To express our gratitude for everything they do, in 2019, we established Cal Water’s inaugural Firefighter Grant Program to support and recognize local fire departments. We received a significant number of applications and will award these grants before the end of the year. We look forward celebrating both the preventative and proactive work we’ve done together on behalf of our communities.