A passerby would have assumed that a huge emergency must have been unfolding at the SFPUC’s new Sunol Yard on May 30. No less than five separate fire department units were on scene, sharing space with Alameda and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s vehicles, California Highway Patrol, and even the East Bay Regional Park District’s Police helicopter.
Thankfully, this was merely the East Bay First Responder Liaison Lunch that the SFPUC’s Natural Resources and Lands Management Division hosts each year. More than 70 representatives from all swaths of local law enforcement kindly set aside two hours of their time for coordination and planning for fire season.
The SFPUC owns 35,000 acres of watershed lands in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Managed by Natural Resources and Lands Management staff, these lands house water infrastructure that is crucial to the drinking water supply for 2.7 million customers, including two drinking water reservoirs, pump stations, pipelines, and tunnels. These lands have been protected from development as drinking water sources, which also makes them vulnerable to trespass, criminal activity, and fire.
It is important that SFPUC staff meet these first responding agencies before an emergency. Thus, the Liaison Lunches were born. Over home-made tri-tip and salad, first responders meet SFPUC staff and become familiar with the watershed and the location of entry roads and gates. The goal: to plan for the inevitable eventuality of a fire on or near our watershed.
“Whatever the scale, we will have emergencies again this year on the watersheds – but we’re better prepared because of the hard work to prepare for these gatherings.” said Tim Ramirez, Director of the Natural Resources and Lands Management Division.
First Responder agencies that keep SFPUC watershed lands and our communities safe include:
- Alameda County Fire Department
- Alamdea County Sheriff’s Office
- Cal Fire
- California Department of Fish and Game
- California Highway Patrol
- East Bay Regional Park District
- Fremont Fire Department
- Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department
- Santa Clara County Fire Department
- Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office
- Spring Valley Fire Department