Power outage costs water district $17K

By Karen Brainard

Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) has determined that it incurred at least $17,000 in overtime and other operational costs from the San Diego Gas & Electric power outage on Sept. 8.

“We will be filing a claim with SDG&E to be reimbursed,” RMWD Assistant General Manager David Barnum told the water board at its Sept. 27 meeting.

Barnum provided a report on the power outage’s effect on the district, along with post-emergency staff recommendations.

Barnum, who will become general manager when Ralph McIntosh retires Oct. 6, handled the emergency operations because McIntosh was out of town.

When the power went out at 3:43 p.m., Barnum said he contacted the district’s SDG&E representative and was told a system-wide outage had impacted Southern California, Arizona and parts of Mexico and to re-energize could take days or weeks.

Barnum said he activated the district emergency operations center (EOC) and determined operational priorities. Without power, the district’s water cannot be pumped the 1,000 feet up from the Poway pump station, so Barnum said he requested an generator from SDG& E.

“When the emerency started we had 12 to 24 hours of water in storage. This is pretty typical for us,” he told the board.

Using a “call-’em-all” reverse 911 system, Barnum said 4,500 customers were called and asked to voluntarily curtail water usage.

Aprroximately 9 to 9:30 p.m., Barnum said the district heard the power outage would be extended, but two hours later the utility company re-energized the power to the pump station, eliminating the need for a generator.

A call-’em-all reverse 911 went out at 6 a.m. to let customers know water was available.

As part of the staff’s post emergency debriefing, Barnum said the following recommendations were established:

•District employees will be cross-trained to perform critical tasks in an emergency.

•Staff will research an inexpensive solution to boost cell phone usage at the RMWD operations center as an additional communications tool.

•Staff to work with SDG&E to develop a more time efficient method to request backup generators for the Poway pump station.

•Review long-term options for auxiliary, backup or other methodology to supply power to the Poway pump station in case of an unplanned power outage.

Barnum and the board members discussed possible alternative power sources for the main pump station.

“In an emergency like this,” Director Darrell Beck said, “I’m concerned about having a supply of water for fires.

   
-

Comments

Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules