Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Dwellers on the Watershed

A spooky thing happens to our watershed keepers on their way to reservoir patrol.

There are bats in the boathouse—hundreds of them roosting on the rafters. 

The small nocturnal flying mammals—long-time watershed inhabitants—took up residence in the floating building on Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir years ago

They may greet a staff intruder with high-pitched chatter in response to the unwelcome light through the first crack as the door opens.  But otherwise they stay put, except when they fly out to forage just after dusk and again just before dawn.  

Our biologists take occasional surveys to check that no rare or endangered species are mingling with the local Yuma myotis. The rest of the time, the bats are left to do what they do—keep the mosquito population at bay, mate (at this time of year), and produce one offspring per year.  There are no current plans to encourage relocation.

“We work around them,” says watershed keeper supervisor Tina Wuslich.  “It’s their home. We’re just the stewards.”  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Regional Groundwater Project Begins Construction Activities at Treasure Island RV Park Site

Beginning as early as this week, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) Groundwater Storage and Recovery project will begin construction activities. The scope of work includes drilling a new groundwater well that will be 590 feet deep, installing approximately 180 feet of pipeline and building a new well station adjacent to the Treasure Island RV Park in South San Francisco (please reference the map below for the exact location).

24-hour well drilling work will occur continuously for up to
one month inside the blue rectangle pictured above. 

The project anticipates well drilling will begin in October. Once this work begins, it will occur continuously for 24-hours a day for up to one month in duration. To minimize noise impacts, the contractor will monitor noise levels and install sound curtains with blankets to ensure the levels do not exceed the local noise ordinance. During night work, the contractor will rotate construction lighting to direct it away from homes near the well drilling work.

For more information about this project, please call the 24-hour answering service at 866-973-1476, or visit the Project webpage at

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Rare Look at Venerable Peninsula Dam

Approximately 50 Filoli Estate members and supporters had a rare look at the base of 127-year-old Lower Crystal Springs Dam and the nearby newly constructed pump house. The site was a featured stop on a special Centennial Tour in celebration of the historic preserve’s 100-year mark. John Fournet, Natural Resources Division community liaison was host and interpreter. 

The 1888 Lower Crystal Springs Dam is the product of our predecessor, the private water utility Spring Valley Water Company. Noted for its gravity-arch design and interlocking concrete block structure—both innovations at the time—the dam withstood the great earthquakes of 1906 and 1989 with no damage. 

The tour ended at Pulgas Water Temple where the group met watershed keeper Jim  Barkenhus for a tour of the temple and channel into Crystal Springs Reservoir.  The popular beaux arts temple is a monument to the birth of the Hetch Hetchy Water System in 1934, when a throng of jubilant San Franciscans gathered near the edge of Crystal Springs Reservoir to witness the sight of the first Sierra waters rushing into the Bay Area.  

Neighboring Filoli Estate is home to a 1915 landmark mansion that was originally the country residence of Spring Valley Water Company board president William Bourn. It was Bourn who commissioned the design of the system’s first beaux art water temple, the 1910 Sunol Water Temple in the East Bay. For Bourn, that kind of majestic classic structure was a fitting tribute to what he saw as the nobility and sheer beauty of Spring Valley’s mission—the supply of clean, plentiful water