SFPUC Celebrates 10 Years of Improving the Hetch Hetchy Water Delivery System

The Bay Tunnel

The Bay Tunnel represented the first bored tunnel under San Francisco Bay. Here, crews work out of the Ravenswood shaft.

With crews performing seismic retrofit work as a backdrop, San Francisco city officials celebrated 10 years of success with the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) only a few blocks from where the first WSIP project in the city broke ground.

The WSIP is one of the largest infrastructure improvement programs in the nation and certainly the largest San Francisco Public Utilites Commission (SFPUC) has ever undertaken. It includes 82 projects — pipelines, tunnels, treatment plants, reservoirs and a dam, and is now more than 80 percent complete. Major tunneling components include the Bay Tunnel, New Irvington Tunnel and New Crystal Springs Bypass Tunnel. The $215.3 million Bay Tunnel, a 15-ft OD water tunnel, extends 5 miles under San Francisco Bay, and is the first-ever bored crossing of the Bay. It is on track for completion in 2015. The $226.6 New Irvington Tunnel, which comprises 3.5 miles of 8.5- to 10.5-ft of water tunnel built using conventional tunneling methods, is due for completion later this year. The $55.7 million New Crystal Springs Bypass Tunnel, consisting of 4,200 ft of 12-ft diameter tunnel, was completed in 2011.

“A working water system capable of operating after a major seismic event is critical for the health and safety of people in the Bay Area,” said San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) General Manager Harlan Kelly. “While we’ve invested in the repair, replacement and seismic retrofit of our regional water system, we have also promoted the economic vitality of our entire region.”

Stretching 167 miles and traversing three major earthquake fault lines, critical components of the water system had reached the end of their useful life and were vulnerable to earthquakes. Over the past 10 years, the WSIP has repaired, replaced and seismically upgraded this system to ensure San Francisco can continue to deliver consistent, reliable, high-quality water to our customers even after a major earthquake.

As an economic engine, WSIP has provided more than 6 million construction craft hours to approximately 11,000 workers since 2007. Additionally, San Francisco and SFPUC service territory residents have worked nearly 50 percent of those hours, and more than 70 percent of the apprentice hours.

“All of this has been achieved while maintaining an incident rate that is 50 percent below the national average for heavy construction,” explained Michael Theriault, Secretary/Treasurer of the San Francisco Trades Council. “We have fed many apprentices into public works and the start of careers in labor and trades thanks to this program.”

The Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System, which provides high-quality drinking water to 2.6 million residents and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, is owned and operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

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