Published December 14th, 2016
MOFD Officials Jump Right into Water Flow Project
By Nick Marnell
The Moraga-Orinda Fire District wasted no time tackling one of the critical goals of its recently approved Strategic Plan when Fire Chief Stephen Healy and director Brad Barber met with East Bay Municipal Utility District officials requesting the upgrade of the water supply to district fire hydrants.
Barber noted that the water district had given MOFD a $50 million estimate in 1997 to bring all of the pipes in the fire district up to the highest standard of water flow. Since then, while some of the pipes have been upgraded, inflation has eaten up the money saved and the cost today would very likely approach the same number. "It would be a number beyond EBMUD's capacity to repair," Barber said at the Dec. 7 district meeting.
Instead, the district will look at a tiered approach to piping infrastructure replacement. Step one may include the upgrade of the inadequate water flow from "red top" hydrants - those barely pumping 500 gallons of water per minute - to a marginally adequate rate of up to 1,000 gallons per minute - "orange top" hydrants. Green caps indicate good flow, between 1,000 and 1,500 GPM, with blue yielding superior flow at more than 1,500 GPM. Approximately 40 red top and 250 orange top hydrants exist in the district, out of a total of more than 1,400.
Other variables include concentrations of inadequate hydrants, possibly obviating the need to fix all of the problem hydrants in one location as long as at least one hydrant pumps an adequate water supply. "Like in the Charles Hill area," said Division 5 director Craig Jorgens, on the board at his first MOFD district meeting. "Maybe in some areas it's more critical for an orange hydrant to be brought up to the green level rather than a red to an orange."
In addition, timing for the water flow improvements is paramount: The district would like to coordinate the piping upgrades with Orinda as the city continues its road paving project.
Barber said that EBMUD plans to report to MOFD early next year on the costs of the various upgrade tiers, possibly at a fire district meeting. "If they are willing to come," Barber said.

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