Thursday, March 22, 2018

Arborists Finish Tree Cutting above Key Water Pipeline in Junipero Serra County Park

Our arborists have finished clearing the trees from above a major drinking water pipeline that runs through Junipero Serra County Park in San Bruno. The effects should not be particularly noticeable to park users or nearby residents.

The trees had sprouted naturally over the decades along the pipeline corridor, and their removal was in preparation for pending essential repairs to 90-year-old San Andreas Pipeline #2. The work was largely confined to the pipeline corridor, with trees left in place on either side so that most of the cleared area is screened from view. 

Since large trees and their roots can damage a pipeline and prevent our crews from accessing it for future repair or maintenance, we will not be planting replacement trees on the same corridor. Instead, we’ll hydroseed the disturbed areas and, plant native shrubs for additional screening if needed. New replacement trees will be planted elsewhere in the park at the Park Department’s direction after the pipeline work is completed.

The aging 54-inch pipeline serves approximately a million people in northern San Mateo County and the city of San Francisco. 

And Here's How It Used To Be

Here’s what the area looked like in 1928, when the San Andreas Pipeline #2 began operation. The small temple-style building is the pipeline valve house, now located inside the 1972 Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant just west of Junipero Serra Park.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Life on the Watershed: March Mushrooms

Thanks to the March rains, wild mushrooms are out on the watershed. Our Habitat Restoration Project manager Mauli Vora sent blogspot pictures of a couple of the species that are there these days. Mushrooms aren't plants, but fruits of fungi underground that sprout in wet weather. And those fungi are vital to forest health and diversity. 

They are robust, wide-ranging underground webs of long thread-like tubes that connect with the fine tips of partner tree rootlets. Different fungi species have ongoing, mutually beneficial interactions with particular partner trees, like the watershed’s native Coastal live oaks. 

The fungi tubes conduct sugars and other compounds from tree to mushroom, while they continually relay minerals and water from  soil to rootlets, invigorating the whole root system and boosting tree nutrition and health.  Fungi can even penetrate and extract water from rocks for a partner tree during a drought, 

Their fruit will be forage for deer, squirrels, banana slugs, insects and other woodland dwellers. Mushrooms continue through the rain months, but the fungal network below sustains partner trees with water and nutrients all year. 

The Habitat Restoration Program is bringing back more Coastal live oak forests, along with native grasses and marshland, througout the watershed. The historic habitats provide essential food and shelter for a multitude of insect, bird, and animal species--some found nowhere else in California 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Ludeman Lane Test Well Drilling to Start March

The Regional Groundwater Storage & Recovery Project (GSR) has drilled an additional 13 groundwater wells throughout northern San Mateo County. We at the SFPUC are looking for up to three additional groundwater well station locations to complete the project.  One potential location is on SFPUC-owned property near Ludeman Lane. To assess whether or not this is a viable site for a groundwater production well, we will drill a test well. Work was originally planned to begin in September 2017 but will now begin in March 2018.  We will test the well for two months to determine whether or not the site is viable.

Approximate location of groundwater test well at Ludeman Lane for the Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery Phase 2 Project.

What to Expect

  • A crew of approximately eight people will operate a drill rig to dig an approximately 550 foot well.
  • Expected start of work: Crews will be on-site starting March 12, 2018 and drilling will begin March 19, 2018.
  • Anticipated Drilling Duration: one month.
  • Testing: two months.
  • Construction Work Hours:  Daytime Work: Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. No weekend or nighttime work is expected at this time.
  • The rig and equipment will stay on site for the duration of the work. The construction area will be fenced off for safety. A security guard will monitor the area after work hours when the contractor is not on-site.
  • The contractors will make efforts to minimize dust and noise in accordance with Millbrae noise ordinances.
  • Green Hills Park users will not be affected during construction.
  • Please avoid the equipment for your safety.

Project Background
Do you have a savings account? We know that having savings is an important part of planning for the future and here at the SFPUC we are looking ahead and saving for our water supply. How does it work? GSR consists of storing water and recovering that water for use during dry-years. This will create a savings account of up to 7.2 gallons of groundwater per day.

The GSR project is designed to help diversify our water supply for drought protection and will ensure we are even more resilient during and after an earthquake or other emergency. Read more:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Night-Shift Water Pro Daylights as Artist

By night he’s a water treatment engineer; by day, an artist. And Matt (“Woody”) Woodworth is embracing the challenge. 

He juggles 12-hour night shifts at Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant with a creative trade at home, producing art that he shows at different local galleries.

After several years as a graphic designer in New York, the Pacifica natïve came back home and made a career shift to the water industry.  Now an engineer with our Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant, he’s on duty four or five nights a week, monitoring the different treatment processes and making minor  but essential adjustments throughout the night to ensure the safety and high quality of our water before it goes out to others. 

So far Woody doesn't make art on a schedule. Instead, he'll head out for the nearby coast at different times of day to surf, take pictures, or plot out studies for the next works. 

Subject matter varies, but most of the fanciful abstracts, illustrations and painted surfboards or other beach findings reflect aspects of ocean life, like dune habitat, marine organisms, or riding the waves.  

He and partner Kelly Harris are also developing a children’s nature education project. They'll include coloring pages, cut-outs with different textures, and other activities to re-create  ocean experience on paper—or even instill the  kind of reverence that, for some, comes with the sea.

“It’s had a huge impact on my life,” Woody says. “Respect it, but have fun too.  When you’re there, you’re kind of like a visitor. It’s good for the soul. “

Still when a work night rolls around, and it’s time for the next shift at the plant, Woody’s up for that too. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he says. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Love on the Watershed

The long-protected Peninsula Watershed is home to a broad diversity of native wildlife species, and mating season is now for a lot of them. 

To take a few February examples, our California state amphibians—the endangered red-legged frogs—are in chorus at restored Homestead Pond, various  small songbirds are beginning to nest in the woodlands, and the wide-ranging coyotes, which bond closely with the same mate for years, will soon be expanding their family units with new litters of pups. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to species everywhere, four-legged and two.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Life on the Watershed: The Unlikely Community Pillar

Rains and lingering  moisture bring out one of the unsung champions of the forest. 

The lowly banana slug may be short on appeal to us, but it is pivotal to forest nutrition and regeneration. As it propels its slow  way along the ground with one powerful little foot, it eats up fallen leaves and twigs, animal droppings, and other dead matter, which it decomposes and recycles into a dark nutrient-rich soil humus. The humus is excreted onto the forest floor, where it mixes in with the existing soils and fuels the roots of new and existing trees and other plant life.      

Unlike the reviled garden slug that can level your herbs and other greenery, this organism prefers dead stuff. 

The lowly banana slug is a woodland community pillar.   

Friday, January 19, 2018

Sowing the Native Acorn

No, it’s not an environmental art work you see next to I 280 at the Trousdale exit on your way south. 

The deftly arranged posts across the open space are actually protective tubes, each carefully inserted above a single acorn that’s been carefully placed into a hole about 2 inches deep. The six-foot tube will safeguard the fragile young Coastal live oak sapling from deer and rodents while ensuring a straight, strong trunk.  

The native acorns were gathered last fall from nearby mature forests. The  future young forest here will be  one of several we're planting at different watershed locations under the Habitat Restoration Program to bring back a total of about 180 acres of native grassland, wetland and woodland. The historic habitats provide essential food and shelter for a variety of native plant, butterfly, bird and other wildlife species, some found nowhere else in California.