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Public Utilities Commission Marks Completion of Crystal Springs Dam Improvements

Project part of Hetch Hetchy water system upgrade.

One day before the 106th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, Mayor Ed Lee was in San Mateo County to mark a major milestone in securing the region's water supply in the event of a future major earthquake.

Lee joined San Francisco Public Utilities Commission general manager Ed Harrington and San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier on the banks of the Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir, where improvements to the 124-year-old Crystal Springs Dam have just been completed.

The dam improvements -- which doubled the width of the main spillway and raised the height of a parapet on top of the structure by 9 feet -- were part of the SFPUC's $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program, which consists of 81 seismic improvements to water delivery pipelines, dams and reservoirs from Hetch Hetchy to San Francisco.

Harrington said the seismic upgrades "virtually guarantee" the reliability of safe drinking water for 2.6 million Bay Area residents within 24 hours of a major earthquake.

"These projects now serve as our reinforced lifeline to deliver Hetch Hetchy water around the Bay," Harrington said. "Five years ago we would not have had the same reliability we have today," he said.

Lee hailed the water system upgrades as an investment in protecting the region's residents and economic interests.

"Clean water is a critical resource for our entire region, and protecting our Hetch Hetchy water source against a major seismic event is vital to our continued success," he said.

The Crystal Springs Dam -- which stands about 1,000 feet from the San Andreas Fault -- has already withstood two major earthquakes: the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Work will now begin to reconstruct Skyline Boulevard, which previously ran on top of the dam but had to be destroyed to make way for the improvements, Harrington said.

The water system upgrades began in 2003 and are on schedule to be completed in 2016, according to the SFPUC.

— Bay City News

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