Bobcat family spotted at Skinner Plant. Photo by Jared Harmon.
A weekly newsletter by and for Metropolitan employees
May 6, 2019
After more than 52 years, Abel is retiring from Metropolitan. Help celebrate his service with a video message. Click here for details.

Here is a short video of Abel receiving his 50 year service award in 2016.
Same Objectives;
Different Configuration
Governor Newsom has reaffirmed his administration’s plans to move forward with a one tunnel Delta conveyance project.

The announcement last Thursday, and a companion executive order issued earlier in the week to develop a plan for the state’s 21st century water needs, is good news for the millions of Californians, businesses and farms who rely on water from the State Water Project.

Did you know?
In an average year, Metropolitan receives about 30% of its water from the State Water Project.

Metropolitan has been a strong supporter of California WaterFix, a plan that proposed two tunnels to modernize the state’s water infrastructure. The board voted in 2017 to approve the district’s share of project financing and a governance structure to build and finance the project. Last year, the board approved additional financing, making Metropolitan the primary investor in the project.

The one tunnel project will be ‘strategically sized’ to deliver water through the Delta in a way that protects water supplies from sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion and earthquake risk.

"Governor Newsom and Natural Resources Secretary Crowfoot recognize that the status quo in the Delta is simply not an option. New conveyance is essential,” said GM Kightlinger in a statement following the announcement.

The state will now begin a new environmental review and planning process that can take advantage of the latest science. This work will also look at ways to reduce impacts to Delta communities from the project and construction activities.
Taking Guesswork out of Measuring our Snowpack
Each year, Metropolitan’s water managers and many others watch a rite of spring as state surveyors make their trek to the mountains to plunge aluminum tubes into the snow, sampling water content.

The state also  reports daily snowpack data  from more than 90 remote electronic sensors, called “snow pillows.”
But the manual tube and automatic pillow measurements only cover a fraction of the landscape.

So their tally is a relatively small sample that requires extrapolation — with a margin of error of 20-40%. For a major reservoir, that’s a difference of billions of gallons of water.

Now California is sending sharper eyes up into the sky using the Airborne Snow Observatory , designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Like a lawnmower, the plane travels in long straight lines, using GPS to traverse the sky. Two sensors peer out from a turboprop Beechcraft Air King 90 collecting data that tells almost exactly how much water we’ll have this summer.

The pilot sees the flight line on a screen in front of him, like a video game. Two tools are pointed through glass in the plane’s belly. One is Lidar, which shoots 400,000 pulses per second of laser light towards the snow. It compares this to measurements taken in the summer - the difference between those two is snow depth. The other is a spectrometer, which measures reflectivity.

Scientists combine this data with ground-based measurements and modeling to calculate water content. The survey helps water agencies better understand the magnitude and timing of snowmelt runoff.

Much of the information for this story was in an article in the Mercury News.
Continuing a Tradition of Engineering Leadership
As Metropolitan’s chief engineer since November 2018, John Bednarski continues a proud tradition that includes Frank Weymouth, Julian Hinds, Robert Diemer and Robert Skinner. “Projects today are different but of similar complexity. They are still very big engineering challenges,” John said.

John joined Met as an associate engineer in 1991 and worked on treatment plant expansions, the oxidation retrofit program, seawater desalination and other infrastructure projects.

In late 2005, he was tapped to help on the Inland Feeder, working to resolve problems that included the Arrowhead Tunnels. “Over the next 10 years, I went from being ‘low IQ’ on tunnels to being viewed as an expert,” John said.

That teamwork proved valuable when it came time to work on the California WaterFix tunnel design. Under John’s leadership, the team reconfigured the original design to allow water to flow by gravity under the right hydraulic conditions. This approach will save capital and operating costs, while reducing potential environmental impacts.

While engineers and scientists are sometimes unfairly stereotyped as unable to think outside the box, “our staff is the antithesis of that,” John said. “They’re creative thinkers and we encourage them to be that way. For example, we have innovative staff working hard to make the recycled water program a reality.”

John is an avid backpacker. Recently, he, his son and a co-worker spent three days on the Mt. Whitney Mountaineers Route. "We got within 1,000 feet of the summit (14,505 feet) when we had to turn around due to poor snow conditions," John says. "It was fun."
New hires, transfers, promotions & retirements are posted here each month.   
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