Preparing for Public Safety Power Shutoffs during high fire risk periods
During wildfire season (approximately June through November), PG&E may turn off electricity in designated areas when severe weather is forecasted to threaten a portion of the electric system (such as Red Flag Warnings, low humidity, high winds, and dry conditions). The specific areas and number of affected customers will depend on weather conditions and which circuits PG&E turns off for public safety. These precautions are called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).
What does this mean for your water service?
SLVWD has an action plan should we lose power. While PSPS is focused on high fire-threat areas, outages may affect any of our water facilities. Outages are expected to last up to two days; depending on weather conditions and power restoration efforts, however, some outages may last longer.
A PSPS event could force SLVWD to switch to backup generators and pumps to power pumping plants, water treatment plants and other key facilities to keep water flowing, maintain storage and fire flow, and keep water distribution lines pressurized.
How we prepare
- We are working with PG&E to ensure we receive as much advance notice as possible so we can prepare and initiate our response.
- When a Red Flag Warning is issued, we fill and maintain water tanks near capacity.
- SLVWD is stationing portable generators and pumps at designated critical facilities to keep our pumping plants running, and we’ve made arrangements to keep these generators fueled during peak demand periods. We can deploy additional portable generators and pumps as needed.
- We are managing vegetation around our facilities to reduce fire risk.
SLVWD INFORMATION REGARDING PG&E PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS (PSPS) FAQs:
Which customers are most likely to be out of water during the power outages?
As each power outage event will be different, it is not possible to predict which areas of the SLVWD system may be the most likely to be out of water. Power shutoffs can last for hours up to several days. SLVWD staff will be working around the clock to adapt to the current operational situation and make the best effort to keep everyone in water during these power outage events. Because of the unpredictable nature of PG&E PSPS’s and Operational statuses at the time of these outages, we are requesting that all SLVWD customers take preparations to ensure they have enough emergency drinking water on hand.
How and when will I be notified if a shutoff becomes necessary?
We ask all customers to sign up to receive advanced notifications from PG&E at https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/safety.page. In addition, you can also subscribe to the SLVWD alert system at https://www.slvwd.com/subscribe.
The SLVWD alert system is not as advanced as PG&E’s, it does require manual steps to get the notification out. If we have advance notice, we will get ours out as well. If it is an emergency that occurs after hours, there will be a delay and also restrictions if there is loss of internet.
Do I have to opt in to these alerts?
PG&E will use your current contact information they have on file. So it is important to double check all your information is correct.
SLVWD does require you to opt in to our notifications.
Our notification system is not only used for emergencies, but also past due notices etc. Some customers give us their information upon initial service application, but do not want us sending phone calls or texts depending on possible phone charges etc.
During the power outage, should I conserve water?
Yes. As SLVWD will be heavily reliant on current water storage during power outages, we ask customers to heavily conserve water during these power outages in order to prevent water outages. Outdoor water use is prohibited during power outage events.
Shouldn’t your generators be able to keep us in water?
Given the mountainous topography of the San Lorenzo Valley, SLVWD has 35+ pumping stations and sources of supply that require power to keep water flowing and safe to drink. A few of these locations have permanent generators in place. SLVWD currently has 12 mobile generators to deploy. While utilizing backup generators are SLVWD’s best option to keep the system in water, they do not guarantee that the system will remain in water if the outage lasts several days.
How long will I be out of water?
The duration of out of water events is impossible to predict, based on the length of the power outage. This is why we are asking customers to prepare for the worst and have enough emergency drinking water on hand for several days. Think about your household appliances and devices:
- Remember to turn off your faucets during a water outage. If you had something on or checked a faucet during an outage, when water comes back on it will continue to run
- Turn off any automatic outside irrigation
- Certain water heaters, pressure pumps or filtration devices may need to be manually turned off in the event of a water outage. Be sure you are aware of the different devices in your home.
The power outage affected my ability to make a payment, will I receive a late penalty?
The District will not be doing late payment penalties nor turn-offs during PSPS’s. After power is back on, the District will allow at least 2 business days for customer’s to make their payments. If you are signed up for the notification system, you will receive a notice prior to any penalties.
Is the water safe to drink during a power outage?
Yes. Should a situation arise where the water becomes unsafe, SLVWD staff will be notifying the affected customers. Depending on the size of the unsafe water condition, staff will be notifying customers via door to door leaflet distribution. If the unsafe water condition becomes widespread, SLVWD staff will be notifying customers of the situation via reverse 911, print media, radio, TV broadcasts, and social media posts.
How will we receive information regarding water outages during a power outage?
The SLVWD will be informing its customers of the most current situation on the SLVWD website, as well as social media posts and sending out alerts through its notification system (sign-up here).