Preparing for Public Safety Power Shutoffs during high fire risk periods
During the 2019 wildfire season (approximately June 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?
EBMUD 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 EBMUD 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.
Here is what we are doing to 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.
- EBMUD 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.
- EBMUD is working with partners on controlled burns in the Orinda/Moraga hills to create fuel breaks that will make room for firefighters to combat flames and slow the spread of fire.
What can you do?
Before a PSPS event:
- Make sure your contact information is updated with EBMUD and your local energy company.
- 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 you are affected by a PSPS event:
- Minimize water use during an event to leave as much water in the reservoirs as possible for firefighting.
- Shut off irrigation.
- Reduce indoor water use.
- Stay tuned; there will be ongoing updates available through social media, news media and on EBMUD’s website.
After a PSPS event:
- Restock your water supplies
- Prepare for the next PSPS event
- Reset your irrigation controller while resetting other electronics to prevent overwatering
- Check regularly for updates from EBMUD and PG&E
We will need public cooperation to ensure we maintain critical water supplies. EBMUD will be developing and sharing more information on our PSPS preparation as we move into late summer.