Suburban Water Systems’ Plant 506 is a critical water pumping station located in the City of West Covina that lifts water to a higher elevation for drinking, domestic, irrigation, and firefighting needs.
Customer demand for water varies throughout the day; it is higher in the morning and afternoon when customers are home before and after work, and it is lower at night when customers are sleeping. When supply from the pump station exceeds customer demand, excess water is stored in tanks elevated above the system. Alternatively, when demand exceeds supply, gravity pulls water out of the tanks to meet the demand down in the system.
The water stored in tanks can meet increased demands that occur during firefighting events and can provide emergency supplies when the pump station cannot supply water due to a power outage. The amount of water stored in the tanks will run out if not replenished by the pump station.
Plant 506 uses electricity from Southern California Edison (SCE) to power booster pump equipment. Power outages can occur during windstorms when fallen branches damage power lines, and when vehicles hit utility poles. Extended outages can occur during Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) events that occur when SCE de-energizes power lines to prevent wildfires during periods of high winds and low humidity.
The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) 2018 High Fire Threat District map identified this area as having an elevated wildfire threat due to its hilly terrain and brush. A reliable and resilient water source is required to provide fire protection to this area. Suburban determined that a diesel generator is required at Plant 506 to provide a reliable backup power source to keep the pumps running during an extended power outage and ensure that water is available for customers.
The generator project began construction in October 2023 after the City of West Covina permitted the project. The city approved the removal of two large non-native pine trees to ensure the safety of workers installing the generators, and to ensure their roots would not damage the generators’ concrete support or the parking lot paving.
The contractor is installing electrical conduits and wiring to connect the generator to an automatic transfer switch (ATS) that automatically turns on the generator during SCE power outages.
The generator is scheduled to be delivered in December 2023 after extensive delays due to recent global supply chain disruptions and high nationwide demand for generators resulting from recent natural disasters like hurricanes and ice storms. Construction is scheduled to be completed before the end of the first quarter of 2024.
Generations of Suburban customers will benefit from this investment that demonstrates our commitment to providing reliable water service to our community.