By William Miller
Yosemite Lakes Park this past week got a taste of what some are calling the “new normal” — disruption of daily life and threats to two of its most important elements — electricity and water.
PG&E announced that a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) was coming over a broad area of the Sierra foothills, and that included YLP. Sure enough, power went out at 1:45 p.m. Sunday and didn’t come back on again until Monday afternoon.
YLP residents had a wide range of responses, from mostly ignoring it and taking off in the car for Fresno, to stocking up on water, filling bathtubs, buying expensive electric generators and worrying about whether the outage might last many days.
What if our food spoils? What if our water service stops?
Besides living in the dark, an extended outage is a serious threat to our water supply. We have a number of huge water tanks on our higher elevations, but without electric power the only way for the water to move is via gravity. That means that homeowners in those high places lose pressure a lot quicker than the rest of us.
The YSPUC board discussed that very scenario in its meeting Tuesday — and what it means for us going forward.
The YLOA board also talked about the outage and what possible future outages will mean for all of us.
Meanwhile, they saluted both managers and employees for their hours put in during the outage. Just two examples: YSPUC Chief Operator Ken Harrington and Security Chief Tammie Hairell checked the water levels in each of YSPUC’s big tanks every couple of hours to make sure they didn’t drop too far, and Blue Heron Executive Chef David Pol drove to Fresno to buy 600 pounds of dry ice to keep food in the Blue Heron and Fairway Cafe coolers and freezers from thawing and spoiling. Water company and maintenance staff also contributed in numerous ways.
At the YSPUC board meeting, Harrington remarked, “I haven’t experienced this long a (power) outage in the 32 years I’ve been here.”
And David Mahan, president of the YSPUC board, reminded YLP residents: “If we have an outage, we have a water emergency also. If we let that go, water will have to be retested (extending the water disruption for many more days).” During a power outage, he said, water should be used just for emergency purposes. “People need to take it very, very seriously.”
Whether another PSPS is coming YLP’s way, no one knows. And no one can predict how long it will last. As last week’s outage showed, a day or so can rattle nerves and cause some inconvenience. But one of several days or more can, as David Mahan said, be very serious — likely forcing YSPUC to shut off water service at each home’s meter box until safe water can be delivered again.
What about installing generators for the clubhouse and Fairway Cafe? For the water pumps (a far more expensive step)? Or providing a place for YLP members to recharge laptops and cell phones? YLOA board members and General Manager Jonathan Penrose are weighing these options.
YLOA members are encouraged to take part and air their ideas and concerns in the Community Forums held between the monthly YSPUC and YLOA board meetings on the last Tuesday of the month. The first was held Oct. 29. Here’s the video:
For much more on YLOA’s plans for more PSPS events, view General Manager Penrose’s July presentation:
In its regular business, the YLOA board voted unanimously to spend up to $60,000 to lease an asphalt recycler and painting machine as part of the new multi-year plan to fix our roads. The money will come from YLOA’s existing, already approved budget.