Customers living in Portola Valley and Los Trancos are now experiencing better water pressure, stronger water system reliability, increased fire protection, and less road and trail closures, thanks to an extensive water system improvement project in the company’s Bear Gulch District.
The project consisted of demolishing two outdated pump stations, consolidating locations, and replacing the infrastructure with a more-efficient station. The new pump station is expected to pump a maximum of 2,150 gallons of water-per-minute and will serve 2,100 customers.
According to Cal Water District Manager Dawn Smithson, the two pump stations were about sixty years old and were in deteriorating condition. The station on Portola Road created increasingly regular traffic delays as construction crews needed to make repairs. That station ended up being demolished since an inaccessible entrance point and nearby power lines prohibited a major overhaul. A generator was also added to ensure the pump station will not lose service in case of a power outage.
The project also included the removal and installation of two miles of new 16- and 20-inch ductile iron pipe to help transfer the water throughout the system. “This was no ordinary main installation as we had to cross the San Andreas Fault, twice,” said Smithson. “The fault line required us to find a method that would withstand a 7.8 magnitude earthquake so we worked with US Pipe to design something that would work for those purposes.” Ultimately, a combination of articulating ball joints and expanding teleflex couplings were used; an industry first, according to Smithson.
Additionally, emergency shutoff valves and hydrants were installed beyond the fault zones to ensure overland temporary piping can be effectively used in the event of an emergency. The new piping will also ensure that the multi-use trail that parallels Portola Road will no longer be shut down for Cal Water contractors to repair main leaks. Along the route several new hydrants were also installed to increase fire-fighting capabilities.
“Protecting our customer’s safety is a top priority at Cal Water,” said Smithson. “In addition to making major infrastructure improvements that will last for years to come, we are also putting several safety mechanisms in place to ensure we are prepared in the event of a disaster.”