PG&E’s planned power shutdowns could choke off vital water supplies

PG&E’s plan to prevent wildfires with widespread power shut-offs means no lights, no refrigeration and no internet in many parts of California.

It could also mean limited use of toilets and taps, an inconvenience that water and sewer districts across the state are scrambling to address before a blackout comes and nature calls.

Utilities, including several in the Bay Area, simply don’t have the backup power to replace the electricity that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. normally provides for water delivery and sewage treatment. The agencies are trying to make their operations more energy efficient and adding alternative power sources in case the cord is cut, but it may not be enough.

Already agencies are warning customers of possible water shortages and sewer backups. A loss of water, or drop in water pressure, could also be problematic for firefighters needing to douse any blazes.

“This is a big challenge,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, a trade group representing hundreds of utilities. “It’s operationally challenging, it’s very expensive, and some of our member agencies are incurring explosive costs.”

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PG&E’s planned power shutdowns could choke off vital water supplies, by Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, July 9, 2019.

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