Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Recently I entered a room to attend a meeting where some folks - purported to know some about the - "infrastructure projects" - that bring our precious water - from the Hetch Hetchy - distribute and charge over 2.6 million customers - Regionally - what we call the Bay Area. All linked to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

These men and women on this committee were told by me during public comment - as they must be reminded from time to time - " that you may be the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee" linked to the SFPUC  - but, "you do not represent the diversity of San Francisco".

"This land and all its resources belongs to the First People - and they took care of the resources for thousands of years. The equity you get from the land, the resources - in this case water - belongs to the First People".

The mostly White members did not like what I said - that is not the issue - the main issue - is that these folks - conduct themselves  - in nonchalant manner - with no standards, no ethics, no morals and most of all - NO respect for the First People.

When the Spanish first landed in San Francisco - the First People greeted them and led them to areas like Lobos Creek, El Polin Spring, Mountain Lake to nourish their bodies with pristine water - that the Ohlone has preserved, protected, and shared with all life. That was in and around San Francisco.

After the 1906 fire - powerful people in San Francisco with connection in Washington DC - deemed fit through the Raker Act of 1913 - to drown a beautiful valley - and create a dam - so that the water damned at the Hetch Hetchy - could provide the needs of San Franciscans -primarily.

The dam was 200 miles away from San Francisco - as far away as a dam could be - and brought to San Francisco - to cater to our needs - through the Raker Act of 1913.

At that time the City and County stretched from San Francisco all the way to Palo Alto and beyond - hence the City and County of San Francisco.

Hence our large holdings of land in and around Crystal Springs, in and around Sunol, in and around the Calavares Dam.

The Piutes and the Miwoks preserved the Tuolumne river and the other key rivers that provide resources; so much to the Hetch Hetchy dam.

Great environmentalists like John Muir and others - at that time - did not fathom this project - but it was carried out - as the powers to be saw in the Hetch Hetchy - making money - from selling the water and the producing hydro-electricity.

Today, in the year 2013 we are caught in a web - the popular term  used is "climate change".

I would like to state this phrase more in a statement - " The pollution and contamination of our Earth by human beings that have failed to respect Mother Earth". Hence today we have to bear the consequences - the catchy acronyms - sound good - but have not been addressed in humility, and acknowledgement of the adverse impacts - against Mother Earth.

The resources we use from the Hetch Hetchy Valley are precious - and over the years - from 1930 to 2000 - deferred maintenance  - has played havoc with our Hetch Hetchy operations and infrastructure.

Michael O'Shaughnessy the architect Hetch Hetchy dam - and his engineers used four huge pipes to bring the Hetch Hetchy waters - all the way to San Francisco - using pure - gravity.

Crystal Spring, the Calavares Dam, the many reservoirs such as the Sunset Reservoir and the University Mound reservoir - store million of gallons of water and there are more.

The Water System Improvement Project has deemed in their poor wisdom to reduce the four huge pipes to three.

Plan with state of the art pumps and treatment plants - to bring the same water to the same dams and fill the same reservoirs - most of which have been repaired and upgraded - as part of the Bond Measure - the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee is committed to review - and have done so in a nonchalant - manner.

The $4.2 billion dollar Bond Measure passed by the constituents of San Francisco and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) to do the following:

 * Provide high quality water to reliably meet current and      foreseeable local, state, and federal requirements;

 * Reduce system vulnerability to damage from earthquakes;

 * Increase system reliability by improving redundancy needed to accommodate outages;

 * Improve short-term water supply reliability and drought protection;

 * Set forth long-term options to address water supply shortages
and manage drought;

 * Enhance sustainability through improvements that optimize protection of the natural and human environment;

 * Provide improvements resulting in a cost effective, fully operational water system.

In recent years a variety of capital improvements have involved new tunnels, upgrading and replacing new pipes, tanks, pump stations, reservoirs, treatment plants - each element and operational facility - treated and improved with state of the art technology - or so we are told and we dare, must - believe.

The many boring and drab presentation given recently in the last four years on the Water System Improvement Project - fail to speak to the TRUTH.

In recent years; we have had a brand new valve blow up and spill millions of gallons of clean water and cause damage to neighboring homes and surrounding areas - South San Francisco.

We have had brand new pipes - burst and flood a school and neighboring areas - and we have failed to produce a detail report to those that approved the Bond Measure - and to those concerned advocates and constituents. This happened in Visitation Valley - Southeast Sector of San Francisco.

The Public Utilities Revenue Bond Oversight Committee of the City and County of San Francisco - should take their tasks seriously - and the deliberations have to be in keeping with some standards. There seems to be no sound REPRESENTATION and that fault lies - with who appoints these members - more if they have the best interest of the constituents of San Francisco - some 805,000 - 2.4 million regionally - Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA).

Some drab presentation by a private consultant - was useless to say the least - on time lines and project spending.

A recent audit linked to the SFPUC - on Job Order Contracts (JOCs) - spells out some key changes need to be done - a fact when I mentioned - seemed to take the private consultant and the board members present - in the interim - the Project Manager - left  the meeting - to chat with someone outside - thus missing some key comments.

The same Project Manager of the WSIP - who spews diatribe - is listened to - and never ever challenged with question and facts - as did the late Richard Sklar - a former General Manager of the San Francisco, Water Department and Ambassador to Bosnia sent there to help the Bosnians - to help rebuild their - infrastructure by President Bill Clinton .

The Calavares Dam rebuild - is ripe with change orders - and a recent natural fault - that the Project Manager and others - want us to believe they missed - the first time around - even though some expensive testing were done.

I brought this to the attention of the Project Manager some years ago - only to be chided and told - that the SF Public Utilities Commission has a special agreement with the United States Geological Survey a Federal Entity - and knows too much about Earthquake fissures, crevices, and faults.

Whatever that agreement - the recent fissure, an ancient fault, will cost - added millions of dollars - benefiting some contractor - and the details of this have not been detailed nor declared.

Add millions dollars to store dirt on land - further enriching many contractors - none of whom are from San Francisco. And may I add why so?

The Revenue Bond Oversight Committee is led by the nose - looking at charts that they have no clue about. Further prodded by facts that do not meet the litmus test - failed to review, check the facts, and having less if no expertise on the matter. Paper pushers that favor those that put them in the first - place to do the bidding of very corrupt - folks - with ties to the Prime Contractors.

Small contractors, Local Business Enterprise Contractors, others - do not stand a chance. As far as those on the Job Order Contract List - the recent audit speaks for itself. The audit done in December, 2012.

In past years some advocates the likes of Steve Lawrence with whom I stay in touch, one other Emery has passed away, Joan an astute and stellar advocate on SFPUC subjects - has given up.

 I continue to stay in touch, attend the the SF Public Utilities Commission;  listen to the shenanigans, the ploys, and the machinations. Not all is worthless - but the elements that count are important - are construed as being the forte of those in the inner circle - not to be disclosed to those that pay for the Bond Measure - this lacking transparency and accountability.

Serious mistakes have been created with the WSIP and must NOT be carried on to the Sewer System Improvement Project (SSIP).

I stated that I have never seen nor heard an member of the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee appear before the SF Board of Supervisors.

More so the SF Public Utilities Commission.

I am not privy nor do I hold back - if presentations are given to the Mayor of San Francisco - Edwin Lee - may be so.

The Chair Kevin Cheng was late at this particular meeting - I attended.

There is a missing seat that must be filled on the Revenue Bond Oversight Committee linked to the SF Public Utilities Commission. That must be filled by some who cares, can represent, and understands the key factors that must be monitored, understood, and adjudicated with expertise.

In this digital age - I have yet to find a site - with all the reports and documents. I have been told one was at the SFPUC website - I checked this site - before I went to the meeting - nothing worth the salt was found.

I was noticed; after I attend the meeting by email that  the City and County of San Francisco, Clerk of the Board - maintains the documents on another site - I have yet to find this site.

Less have been able to comprehend - have do we have a maze of nonsense - to get to the point and have easy access to. 

I supplied the 2012 Annual Report of the SF Public Utilities Revenue Bond Oversight Committee - to two Certified Public Accountants, one Developer, and two Engineers - and all of them agree - the report is general in nature - and does not have any notably - benchmarks. That is putting it mildly.