Being a public works employee, you know firsthand our critical role as first responders. We keep the water flowing, the watersheds clean, the roads safe, and the buildings structurally sound.
During Thanksgiving week this year, some county residents experienced power loss due to red flag warnings and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). In these instances where our water and sewer systems use electricity to function, our staff works to ensure that generators are working to power wells, lift and pump stations, as well as reservoirs in affected areas.
The following employees spent the holiday ensuring that we continued to deliver safe, clean water to customers and that our sewer systems continued to function: Sean Hanley, Miguel Arambula, Stephen Shelton, Evan Martinez, Ryan Rivas, and Gilbert Segovia. Thanks to this group of dedicated professionals, no water or sewer disruptions occurred on Thanksgiving Day, and the days surrounding!
Water Distribution Supervisor, Sean Hanley, described his account of the event completed by Water and Sanitation: Preparations for the red flag warning started on Tuesday, November 23rd. We take red flag warnings very seriously because the risk of fire is very high compounded by high water demand due to heat and low humidity, which is bad for agriculture, so they irrigate a lot. The Public Safety Power Shutoffs have made conditions worse because we do not have back up power at every location, so we also lose available sources for providing water and distributing water. We started by topping off all our reservoirs with water to near the high-level overflows. On Wednesday, November 24th we fueled all our equipment and generators. We also filled up extra transfer tanks and fuel tanks and staged equipment, including vehicles and personnel. The first power outages started on Thursday, Thanksgiving morning around 3:30 AM. We lost SCE power to the 1180 Zone, 1291 Zone and 1362 Zone, which is mostly the unincorporated area north of the City of Moorpark. At the same time, in District 19, Somis, we lost power to 538 Zone, 860 Zone and 1030 Zone which is the Worth Way area. Some of the locations have generators with automatic transfer switches and some do not. I went out [at approximately 3:30AM] and started the generators that need to be manually switched over from SCE to generators and restarted the stations. As Thanksgiving Day progressed, we continued to lose power to more locations. At its peak we had 14 back-up emergency generators running providing power to three potable wells, seven pump stations and nine reservoirs. Roughly 11 million gallons of storage were running outside of its normal operation. Steve, Mikey, Evan and I worked on the holiday to meet demand and position ourselves for the best water storage situation should the worst occur and a large fire were to ignite. All power was restored on Friday.