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SOURCE - Winter 2016

30 SOURCE winter 2016 FIRE RESPONSE one with a towchain. We found one, moved the utility trucks and towed the generator the 1.1 miles to the well site, connected it to the well and started filling the empty storage tanks. We knew the generator would run for 20 hours on a full tank of diesel, but we lost our containers in the fire. The local market-hardware store was open and gave us five fuel cans. When we practiced our Emergency Response Plan (ERP) we had not planned on a prolonged electrical outage—there were no operable fuel stations in Middletown. It took 18 hours to get 11 feet of water in the tanks (22 feet is full.) Our first thought was to pressurize the system block by block by isolating sections of the town, but we gave up when we realized how long this would take. We opened all the valves and immediately began turning off all of the curb stops to the burned homes. Within an hour or two we had all leaking services isolated. We pressur-ized the lines by 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning, September 14. The water was considered non-potable, but the firefighters, the Native American reservation and the few townspeople had water within 24 hours of the tank going dry. We spent the next few days closing the remaining valves to burned houses and fixing leaks. At the Cal Fire station, they wrote “Emergency Water Repair” on the corner of my windshield, and “Callayomi County Water District” on the driver’s side back window, so I had no more problems with road blocks. I discovered there were command centers at the Lakeport fairgrounds and at the Lakeport Casino. I got passes for myself and my staff and was invited to attend morning “utility and infrastructure” meetings. Agency representatives gave updates, and ev-eryone gave status reports. Repopulation could only occur if every impacted agency agreed that it was safe and systems were operational. Middletown was not approved for repopulation until Saturday, September 19, a week after the fire started. From day one, I had conversations, exchanged e-mails and texts with the Santa Rosa office of the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW). My main contact was Sheri Miller and her staff, who were extremely helpful. Because I had no computer or printer, they printed the boil water notices I needed to distribute because the water system had gone negative pressure when the tanks were empty. My secretary, Laura Pi-mentel, and I distributed the boil water notices in person on Saturday, prior to the repopulation. On Sunday, September 20, at approximately 7:30 a.m., I received a phone call from East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) telling me they were sending someone to assess my system. The next week I had a visit from sev-eral employees from EBMUD and the San Francisco Public Utilities Com-mission. Mike Weisenberger was the leader of a crew that did water system piping repair and replacement and focused on the filtration system. A week later, on Monday, September 28, a combined crew from EBMUD and the San Francisco Utilities Commission arrived, including multiple utility trucks, six crew members, and a crane to do water system piping repair and replace-ment, focusing on the filtration system. The CCWD system is a pressurized filtration system with two filters that contain multimedia and granular activated carbon (GAC). The multimedia removed iron after it was oxidized with chlorine, and the GAC was for taste and odor. The plan was that the filtration would be temporarily bypassed by removing the damaged eight-inch piping and control system. Brian Rolley, the crew’s controls technician, went to work figuring out what we would need for both a temporary and more long-term fix. Mike’s crew had to fabricate much of the replacement piping at their shop, and Brian had to build controls out of what was available. During this time the water was still flowing through the damaged filters and leaking piping to the filters, but it worked. When Mike and his crew arrived, the site hadn’t been


SOURCE - Winter 2016
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