SF taking action on water system woes

The Associated Press
Thursday September 26, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — A television news report that a major component of the city’s emergency water system had been neglected for more than a decade is prompting changes and a fire department investigation into how the system came to be neglected. 

A report by KGO TV on Tuesday found that several engines that drive pumps at San Francisco’s Pumping Station Number Two are could fail in a major disaster. Such engines are used to keep water flowing from San Francisco Bay to fire hydrants if the main system shuts down or leaks, as it did following the Loma Prieta earthquake. 

But an official department report shows the engines are in critical condition. The engines’ manufacturer recommends the oil be changed every 150 hours, or once a year. But the chief engineer charged with maintaining the station, Seung Hong, told the television station he hasn’t changed the oil in more than 10 years because the pumps only run four hours a month. 

The television station found Hong had been playing golf and working on his car inside the station, as well as lifting weights and tending to lettuce, tomatoes and spices in a contraband garden. 

San Francisco Fire Chief Mario Trevino said the city has two fire boats to use in an emergency, but has instituted a new maintenance program to ensure the emergency water supply will be reliable. He also is launching an internal review and has asked police for a criminal investigation.