Santa Rosa, CA—Following the October 2017 wildfires, the City of Santa Rosa undertook an examination of the water system in the Fountaingrove area and the impacts to the system during the Tubbs fire. The purpose of the investigation was to better understand the function of the water system during the fire and identify opportunities for improving the system’s reliability and resilience.
To provide an objective analysis, the City selected Black & Veatch, a global engineering, consulting and construction company that specializes in water infrastructure. Black & Veatch evaluated the water system using data from the City’s telemetry system, which remotely monitors the City’s water system, including pump stations and storage tanks. Data acquired prior to the fire was used to determine typical water usage and system operations to establish a baseline. Black & Veatch also surveyed the system to ensure it met applicable codes and guidelines for pressure and storage capacity for fire flow.
Using the baseline data, limited data acquired during the fire, Emergency Operation Center notes, staff interviews and the fire progression timeline, Black & Veatch evaluated and analyzed use and response of the Fountaingrove area water system during the Tubbs Fire. Black & Veatch determined that the distribution system serving Fountaingrove was designed and improved to meet industry standards and City Fire Code. The report finds that the system provides sufficient and reliable fire protection under typical conditions. However, the intensity, rapid spread, and magnitude of the Tubbs Fire created extreme conditions which overwhelmed the system.
In addition to the evaluation of the water system during the Tubbs Fire, Black & Veatch provided a list of recommendations for possible improvements to the distribution system and items for the City to study to increase the system’s reliability and resilience during future fire events. Recommendations included:
- Investigate ways to increase pumping reliability in higher pressure zones
- Study technical solutions to prevent openly flowing water connections
- Consider improvements to increase data reliability
- Incorporate lessons learned in future Master Plan updates, including examining additional interconnections and pressure regulating valves, studying the feasibility of providing off-line water storage, and incorporating resiliency planning.
The Santa Rosa Water Department will be presenting the findings of the report and recommendations to increase the water system’s resiliency and reliance during future fire events at a special meeting of the Santa Rosa City Council on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 10:00 A.M.
The full report is available at www.srcity.org/watersystemreport