The winter snow storm of November 7 2005, made the residents of Bieber aware of their vulnerability during extended electric power outages. The town's water system which consists of a 30,000 gallon water tower which is supplied by electric pumps ran out of water in 12 hours.
Lassen County Waterworks Dist. 1 (the Bieber Water Company) sent out flyers with this month's water bill requesting customers to use extreme water rationing during future power outages, but even this measure could not protect the area for outages lasting more than a couple of days. The district has recognized the need to get an emergency diesel powered generator to provide backup water.
The waterworks manager, Steve Jackson, and the water board noted that the pumping needs for the town can be satisfied by using the generator for not more than 2 or 3 hours a day when the power is out. Because of the minimal time needs, it seemed that having a generator on standby for long periods of time, only to be used for a few hours a year would be wasteful. The water board proposed that a mobile generator on a trailer would serve the community needs much better.
The town of Bieber has a memorial hall which is designated as an emergency shelter. The hall is already in use to cook meals for seniors 3 days a week, and is also used for other community events. The memorial Hall presently has no emergency generator. One could have been used to power the Memorial Hall last November 8, which was voting day. Voting took place in the dark, using a fireplace as heat. This event made Sacramento Newspapers. The Memorial Hall is heated by a fuel powered heater, but needs electricity to run the blower system. A generator would also power the all electric kitchen making the Hall a self contained emergency shelter able to serve meals as well as keep people warm and safe.
While investigating the feasibility of getting a mobile generator, other candidates for emergency power in the area were discovered. Naturally, only one site at a time could be powered by a generator envisioned to be about the 50 KW. size and scheduling would be necessary. In case of a long term emergency, this scheduling is reasonable since candidate sites are all within a short distance of each other. Disconnecting from one site and plugging into another would on;y be a matter of a few minutes.
Candidates for shared usage are the Memorial Hall, the Big Valley Medical Center, the High School and perhaps other community facilities. Candidates would only be required to prepare by installing suitable power panels and connectors on their buildings and advising the water board in advance of their needs. An additional advantage of a mobile generator is the ability to park it in the fire hall where it not only would be sheltered from the elements, but could be periodically started and tested by the volunteer fire department. The idea of a multi purpose mobile generator seems like a much better use of limited funds than to actually install a fixed generator at each site.
The proposal has been well received by Chester "Chip" Jackson who is Lassen Counties assistant Sheriff and Emergency Services Manager. Also the Lassen County Sheriff is enthusiastic about the project. Chip has introduced this proposal to California's Homeland Security Department, the response has been favorable and the water district has been informed that Federal or State funds will likely become available.
There also some interest and support for this proposal from Dan Bouse, from Modoc Counties Emergency Services and Dave Bradshaw, Modoc County Dist. 5 supervisor who is also on the board of directors for Mountain Valleys Health Center which operates the Big Valley Health Center in Bieber.