Suburban Water Systems (SWS) Plant 236 is a critical water pumping station that serves residents in the Friendly Hills neighborhood in the City of Whittier. It lifts water for drinking, domestic, irrigation, and firefighting needs at higher elevations.
Plant 236 uses electricity from Southern California Edison (SCE) to power booster pump equipment. While some water is stored at elevation in water tanks, an extended power outage would stop pumping and reduce access to water for fire protection. Extended outages can occur when falling branches damage windstorm power lines, vehicles hit utility poles, and during Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) events that de-energize power lines to prevent wildfires.
The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) 2018 High Fire Threat District map identified this area as an elevated wildfire threat due to its hilly terrain and brush. A reliable and resilient water source is required to provide fire protection in this area. Suburban determined that a standby diesel engine generator is needed at Plant 236 to provide a reliable backup power source to keep the pumps running in an extended power outage.
SWS worked with the City of Whittier to ensure the generator complied with noise ordinance requirements and constructed a block wall to soften the appearance.
The generator was delivered in December 2022 after an extensive delay due to global supply chain disruptions and high demand for generators resulting from natural disasters like hurricanes and ice storms across the country in recent years. The electrical equipment and controls were upgraded and are ready to take power from the generator that will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2023.
Generations of SWS customers will benefit from this investment and others that ensure a resilient and reliable supply of safe, high-quality water.