How the Scotts Valley Water District preparing for Public Safety Power Shutoffs
During the 2019 wildfire season (through November), PG&E may turn off electricity in designated areas when extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted (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?
Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD/District) has an action plan should the area lose power. While PSPS is focused on high fire-threat areas, outages could affect any of the District’s water facilities and may last several hours or multiple days, depending on weather conditions and power restoration efforts.
A PSPS event could require SVWD to switch to backup power at its three treatment facilities and use portable generators at pump stations and other sites to continue water delivery, maintain storage and fire flow, and keep water distribution lines pressurized.
Here is what SVWD is doing to prepare:
- Working with PG&E to assure the District receives as much advance notice as possible to prepare and initiate a response.
- Ensuring that the water tanks are filled and maintained near capacity when a Red Flag Warning is issued.
- Stationing portable generators at critical facilities to keep pump stations running, and securing arrangements to keep the generators fueled during peak demand periods.
- Purchasing additional portable generators to be deployed as needed.
- Managing vegetation around facilities to reduce fire risk.
What can you do?
Before a PSPS event:
- Make sure your contact information is updated with SVWD and PG&E.
- Store a minimum of two gallons of water per person per day, enough to last three to seven days, and don’t forget your pets. The more water you can store, the better.
- Identify your unique/critical water needs and plan ahead.
- Clear property of excess, dead and highly flammable vegetation. Trim grass and vegetation at least 30 feet around your home.
- If you have a backup generator, test it and ensure it’s ready to operate safely.
If the area is affected by a PSPS event:
- Minimize water use during an event, including shutting off irrigation and reducing indoor water use, to leave as much water in the reservoirs as possible for firefighting.
- Stay tuned; there will be ongoing updates available through social media (the District’s Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor accounts), news media and on SVWD’s website.
After a PSPS event:
- Restock your water supplies.
- Reset your irrigation controller while resetting other electronics to prevent overwatering.
- Check regularly for updates from SVWD and PG&E.
The District needs everyone’s cooperation to maintain critical water supplies.