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Water Blogged

Read everything water...blogged. Scroll below to find article topics spanning from water treatment and system technology updates to conservation tips and employee news—and more.

SJW Community Programs 2020

Community involvement is a key part of our commitment to the places where we live, work and serve.  Contributions include both monetary donations as well as volunteer time and talent. While COVID-19 may have cut short our in-person community outreach efforts in 2020, a new series of virtual partnerships emerged.  

SJW staff volunteers at Martha's Kitchen

Early in the year, SJW held an Open House at San Jose’s Seven Trees community center. Here, staff joined community members to talk about water quality, conservation, construction, distribution services and emergency preparedness. Presentations about water rates and AMI allowed

Behind the Scenes: Emergency Management

Have you ever wondered what it takes to deliver clean, safe water—even during an emergency? Lots and lots of planning. It all begins with our Emergency Management group, which also includes Security and Business Continuity.

Whiteboard showing logistics planning at EOC meeting

Referred to as an EOC (Emergency Operation Control), the SJW team has been activated for multiple events including the 2017 Floods, 2019 PG&E PSPS, COVID-19, Civil Unrest, Power Brownouts and CSU/CZU Lightning Complex fires in Santa Clara County.

The EOC is responsible for staying ahead of the curve—knowing when something might hit before it actually happens. They

Innovation in Action: Remotely Operated Vehicle Saves the Day – Underwater!

San Jose Water typically uses an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for inspections and sediment collection in our tanks. However, the team found a new use for the ROV when a large tank sprung a leak.

View from the ROV inside the tank
View from the ROV inside the tank

The leak was large and although our crew members tried to make repairs on the fly, the sheer power and volume of water rushing out was unmanageable. The hole was plugged as a short-term solution. The team went back to the drawing board to figure out how repairs could be made. Options considered included completely taking the water out of the tank; hiring a diver to plug the hole

Xeriscaping: What's It All About?

Native flowers in front of a house

Most of us grew up with the image of flat green lawns and colorful flower beds as the standard for home landscaping. More and more frequently, we’re seeing those traditional scenes replaced with varied greenery, native plants and windswept grass. There’s a name for this trend, and fall is the perfect time to give it a try!

Xeriscaping is a water-wise approach to landscaping, growing in popularity in drought-prone regions like California. In a nutshell, it’s a system of using only plants that are native to an area, reducing the need for irrigation. It rejects the notion that bringing in

SJW Replaces 175,000 Gallon Pike Tank

Image of original tank
Original Pike tank

A major part of SJW’s commitment to provide safe and high-quality drinking water to our customers is the replacement of aging infrastructure. We’re happy to announce the completion of our most recent effort: replacing the Pike Tank in Saratoga.

The original tank, constructed in 1982, held 175,000 gallons. The new steel tank has a storage capacity of 283,200 gallons that will allow it to meet increased local water usage, fire suppression demands, and building code requirements. In addition, new electrical communication and water quality equipment, including a 40-foot antenna, was

On the Job with Distribution Services: Emergency Leak Repair

SJW employees in full PPE capping the main
SJW employees in full PPE capping the main

In a perfect world, routine maintenance and repairs happen between 8 AM and 5 PM. Fortunately, San Jose Water’s Distribution Services (DS) team is on call to serve our customers 24 hours a day. A perfect example of this dedication occurred the night of August 6-7, 2020.

A leak on a 17” main at Camden Avenue and Hicks Road in San Jose required immediate attention. Not only was there water loss, but the source was under a bridge embankment adjacent to the Guadalupe Creek. Keenly aware of our environmental responsibilities, we did not want chlorinated water to enter a waterway and cause

Meter Shop – Keeping the Meters Measuring

Abe loading his truck with new meters to be installed that day.
Abe loading his truck with new meters to be installed that day.

Fun fact: there are more than 230,000 water meters throughout SJW’s 140-square mile service area, and just one department responsible for making sure each and every one of them are in tip top shape: the Meter Shop!

There is more to these water meters than meets the eye. SJW has an entire department committed to making sure its meters accurately measure the water so customers pay for only the water used – and not a penny more!

This tight-knit group of employees are responsible for using their knowledge of mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic principles to replace, repair, and test

On the Job with Field Service: SJW’s First Responders

San Jose Water employee Armando Quintanar investigating a meter leak
Armando Quintanar investigating a meter leak

Much attention and deserved appreciation has gone to Essential Workers and First Responders during the COVID-19 crisis. At San Jose Water, we want to recognize our own: the hard-working men and women of our Field Service crews, also known as ALERT (Active Local Emergency Response Team). 

You may know them as the friendly folks in blue shirts who are first on the scene when a leak happens.  Other critical duties include changing out older meters as mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and responding to customer inquiries such as high bills or pressure issues.

Cahalan Tank Fire

Cahalan fire
The fire smolders around SJW’s Cahalan Tank

A fire in the Santa Teresa foothills of San Jose scorched 90 acres on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Not only were nearby residents evacuated and air tankers called in to drop retardant, but SJW Operations staff also jumped into action. Our Cahalan tank was right in the middle of the fire area.

Around 5 PM on Thursday, Operations Supervisor Richard Tapia was notified by our Crewleader, Ed Heldebrant, that our tank was on fire. Looking up, Heldebrant could see a huge plume of smoke and started receiving calls from friends,SJW Dispatch, and Fire Dispatch. Our East Side Operator, Tim Mangrum

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