Benicia, CA

Benicia residents forced to reduce water usage by 30% following pipeline rupture

Refugio Garcia
(Mariola Grobelska/Unsplash)

Pipeline break in Benicia forces residents to slash water usage

A ruptured pipeline break at the Benicia Water Treatment Plant is forcing area residents to reduce water usage by 30% – banning outdoor water use such as car washing and landscaping, KTVU reports.

"While repairs are underway, water coming into homes and businesses is safe to drink and use," officials said in a statement.

The Valero Benicia Refinery will be unaffected by the requirement, as the refinery utilizes untreated water in their processes.

The new requirement could last up to several days, according to officials.

Contra Costa fire crews get some relief amid daunting fire season
(David McNew/Getty Images)

The Contra Costa Fire Protection District saw a steep increase in calls last year with roughly 81,000 reports of fires, car accidents, EMS calls among others, up from an annual average of 76,000 between the years of 2020 and 2017, East Bay Times reports.

As wildfire preparedness week kicks off this month, fire crews are faced with a new reality of fire season now covering the entire calendar year, causing firefighters to move at breakneck speeds with little downtime to recover.

“If I could describe it in one word: Unrelenting,” said Firefighter Chuck Stark. “There used to be an ebb and a flow to this. Not anymore.”

The situation has forced many firefighters to live with injuries that can be seen and require physical therapy to recuperate. Physical and massage therapists are on site at the Station 8 firehouse in Pittsburg twice a week. Other therapists are also on site to offer mental health support to firefighters and other staff.

Post-traumatic stress disorder impacts nearly three out of four firefighters, according to the American Psychiatric Association. In addition, the intensity of fire season often leads to a lack of sleep and fatigue, which can result in anxiety, depression, anger, panic attacks and other symptoms, Stark said.

“We train and prepare for the things we’re going to do, and things we’re going to see. That creates a heavy burden that we have to accept,” said Battalion Chief Rob Lutzow. “We know that we are going to retire on our last day of the job as a different person than we were on the first day. Everybody knows it.”

McClymonds High School to receive upgrades through bond measure
(Josh Olalde/Unsplash)

Upgrades to McClymonds High School in West Oakland are slated to start in 2024 in order to modernize the school, which has been at the same campus since 1938, Oaklandside reports.

The upgrades are funded through a $735 million bond approved by Oakland voters in 2020, with $65 million to be allocated to upgrading McClymonds High over the next three years.

However, some community members have voiced concerns saying that there won’t be sufficient funds to implement all the needed upgrades and that an upgraded campus might attract charter schools looking to relocate or expand.

“This is not going to be an easy process,” said school board director for District 3, VanCedric Williams, where the McClymonds campus is located. “We’re all in agreement that McClymonds deserves some new energy and some new designs. We’re going to continue to push through this conversation.”

Proposed upgrades include revamping the school’s shop building, which houses their technology center, woodworking shop and health center that’s available to students and faculty. A total rebuild would be more cost effective due to the required seismic upgrades, according to Josh Jackson, an associate with Perkins Eastman architects.

Another plan calls for a campus-wide overhaul, including relocating the school’s parking lot, the campus pool house would be replaced with new basketball courts, and a new grandstand and press box would replace the bleachers. The second plan calls for the complete removal of the school’s shop building with those classes to be relocated to the campus's main building.

Architects and McClymonds facilities team will combine the most popular aspects of the two plans and present them to the McClymonds project advisory committee on June 7. The Oakland Unified School District will request proposals for the construction after a design has been finalized.

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