CalWater scrambles to repair multiple water-main leaks

Everest charter high school lost water part of Tuesday

Emergency plans of California Water Service Co.'s Bear Gulch District have been tested since Monday, Jan. 25, when an afternoon surge in water pressure resulted in six nearly simultaneous small water main leaks. The pressure surge was caused by a malfunction in the pressure-reducing valve, the company said.

The company worked through the night to repair those leaks only to have more leaks appear Tuesday morning, including one that affected Everest Public High School in North Fair Oaks.

Company spokeswoman Yvonne Kingman said in addition to Bear Gulch District crews, crews from neighboring CalWater districts, plus contract construction crews were working to repair all the leaks.

"We did need to temporarily interrupt water service to some customers in order to make the repairs," Ms. Kingman said, but fewer than 100 customers were affected by Monday's leaks and fewer than 40 by the new leaks reported Tuesday.

"The faulty equipment has been isolated from the system, and we will be working to prevent similar occurrences in the future," Ms. Kingman said.

CalWater crews thought all the repairs had been completed by 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, she said, but more leaks were found later in the morning, and the district reopened its emergency operations center.

Two Menlo Park leaks – at Roble Avenue and University Drive and at Felton Drive and Encinal Avenue – were temporarily repaired Monday night, but crews went back Tuesday morning to finish the work, she said. Customers in those two locations will have their water turned off again, she said.

At the Everest charter high school, at 455 Fifth Ave. in North Fair Oaks, the water district provided bottled water and portable toilets so the school could remain open, Ms. Kingman said. A temporary connection allowed water to be restored to the school by 10:30 a.m., she said.

CalWater, she pointed out, tries to warn customers when service will be interrupted and will deliver bottled water to affected customers or reimburse them for the expense of purchased water.

Monday's leaks were near the following intersections: Euclid and Stockbridge avenues, Atherton; Fifth Avenue and Middlefield Road, North Fair Oaks; First Street and Williams Avenue, North Fair Oaks; Roble Avenue and University Drive, Menlo Park; Felton Drive and Encinal Avenue, Menlo Park; and Fremont Street and Fremont Place, Menlo Park.

Tuesday's leaks were on Fifth Avenue between Park Road and Middlefield Road in North Fair Oaks; on Stockbridge Avenue between Santa Clara Avenue and Hillary Lane in Atherton; and on University Drive between Partridge and Cambridge avenues in Menlo Park.

All but two of the leaks were repaired by 2:30 p.m. and the company expected to have the remaining leaks repaired by early evening, Ms. Kingman said.

For more information, contact the district at (650) 561-9709.

"We're working diligently to make repairs and get water service restored to all impacted customers," Ms. Kingman said. "We are also investigating the problem to ensure we can prevent it from happening again in the future. And finally, we sincerely apologize to our affected customers for any inconvenience this has caused to them."


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm

good work CalWater, they were on the scene quickly and got the water flowin'

Like this comment
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Oh, my! A pressure-reducing valve failed? I wonder why it failed? Did it fail because proper preventive maintenance was not done? I do not know. And I have to wonder if this surge in pressure damaged water lines in other parts of Cal Water’s service area. I hope it did not, but only time will tell.

I am asking the questions above because I, too, am a Cal Water customer, though I am very fortunate in that I did not lose my water service. But I could have. And I do care about others who have problems when any part of our infrastructure have problems.

Nie work, Cal Water, in getting the water lines repaired. I just hope this is the last time this will happens!

BTW, and FWIW -- I have learned over the years that around 80% of the work on machines and such should be PMs -- Preventive Maintenance -- and only around 20% should be reacting to problems. This, of course, costs money. and thus will be very hard to justify to most bean-counters, because such people do not like to approve spending the money to replace items that seem to be perfectly fine, even if such parts have reached the expected end of their usual service life. Yes, that does cost money, but, remember -- “Pay me now, or pay me later!” -- but you must pay. And it is better to spend far less money now to prevent problems than it is to spend lots of money later to fix the messes those problems cause after they happen.

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