Preparation for worst-case scenarios is a priority for Valley Water and its Board of Directors. PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff Program (PSPS Program) during extreme weather or wildfire conditions is new, but we have always been prepared for power outages.
PG&E suggests customers prepare for outages that could last longer than 48 hours. All of Valley Water’s critical facilities have built-in backup power and contracts in place for fuel delivery.
Valley Water provides wholesale treated water to retailers, raw surface water to a select group of customers, and manages local groundwater basins. Groundwater and surface water users rely on their own equipment to access those supplies.
Valley Water and its Board of Directors are looking to the future to solve new challenges. We continue to search for opportunities to improve our reliability and resiliency. You can also prepare for an emergency and disaster. Santa Clara County’s Office of Emergency Management has helpful information for residents.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the potential impacts to our water supply if PG&E shuts off power in Santa Clara County as part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program?
Valley Water has always had contingency plans in place to continue to deliver treated water and make groundwater available to our water retailers in the event of a power outage. Valley Water has built the necessary back-up power resources into its infrastructure. Permanent generators are connected to critical Valley Water facilities, which includes all the drinking water treatment plants, the water quality lab and multiple administration buildings. Valley Water also has several mobile generators of various sizes that can be quickly deployed to the field, where they may be needed. Our generators are also tested and maintained on a regular basis to be ready for service in case of an unplanned outage.
- In the event of an extended outage, how many days can Valley Water continue water delivery service using back-up power resources?
Several factors are involved in determining how long Valley Water can continue treated water delivery service, including time of year and water demand. In the event of the unlikely possibility of a total power loss throughout Santa Clara County, we have enough fuel on-site to run the generators for approximately four to six days. We also have contracts with fuel suppliers that could supplement our needs if necessary to extend our operations using backup power.
- Will water quality be impacted?
We do not anticipate an impact on water quality due to an extended power outage. Valley Water will continue to test and monitor our treated water and ensure it meets or exceeds all state and federal requirements and standards. There is a slight chance of a change in taste or odor due to optimizing the treatment process for running on generators. However, all treated water will be managed to ensure meeting of all state and federal requirements and standards.
- Would water sources into our treatment plants change during extended power outages?
Valley Water receives federal water from San Luis Reservoir and state water from the South Bay Aqueduct. The pumping plants providing water to Valley Water from San Luis and the South Bay Aqueduct have no back-up power. Some water from Lake Del Valle could be delivered by the South Bay Aqueduct via gravity, but Valley Water would primarily rely on in-county surface water from Anderson and Calero Reservoirs to provide the raw water to the treatment plants, as available at the time.
- How does Valley Water’s groundwater management help during an emergency situation?
A key mission of Valley Water is ensuring local groundwater supplies are reliable. Groundwater basins in Santa Clara County can store vast amounts of water, much more than all ten surface water reservoirs combined. Because of this, these groundwater basins are the primary reserve that retailers draw upon more heavily during droughts or other emergencies. Our activities to replenish groundwater, deliver treated water, and conserve and recycle water help make sure local groundwater is reliable and available.
- I have a well, will I still be able to pump water during a power outage?
Pumps to extract water from wells typically rely on electricity for power. In those cases, the pump will not work during a power outage unless it is connected to an alternate source of power, like a generator. PG&E has several resources for what to do before, during and after a Public Safety Power Shutoff, including how to choose the right generator and tips on generator safety.
- What is Valley Water’s contractual obligation as a wholesaler to provide continuous water supply to our retailers?
Our goal is to continue to deliver treated water and make groundwater available to our water retailers in the event of an extended power outage. We have the infrastructure and operational capacity to do so for an extended period of time. However, in the event of the circumstances beyond our control, Valley Water may be required to reduce or cease delivery.
- In the event of an extended power outage, what may be asked of you?
Valley Water will look to partner with Santa Clara County residents and water retailers in water conservation efforts if a large-scale power outage results in a regional emergency and water supply is limited.