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Old 05-15-2009, 02:35 PM
shane shane is offline
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Default Newsom in Tracy for new water facility

(05-15) 04:00 PDT Tracy -- If ever there was an image that said, "I'm running for governor," it was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sitting on a bulldozer at a water-treatment plant southwest of Tracy on Thursday. "I love this!" he said as he learned how to operate the machinery.
Newsom, along with officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, was there for the groundbreaking of the Tesla Water Treatment Facility. It is one of 85 projects the agency plans to build over the next five years to improve the system that brings water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir to the taps of 2.5 million Bay Area residents.
The Tesla project, scheduled to open in 2011, will be the state's largest ultraviolet water disinfection plant - meaning black lights will clean the water as it flows through without even touching it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has mandated the ultraviolet filtration process be installed by 2012.
Ed Harrington, chief of the city PUC, likened the project to the building of a new span of the Bay Bridge while cars keep driving across the old one. The project will involve drilling a tunnel through the Coast Range and installing pipes with the ultraviolet technology - all while water continues to flow here through the old pipes.
Harrington said the water system will have to be shut down for 45 days next year, but that there's more than enough in watersheds in the East Bay and on the Peninsula to compensate.
The $112 million Tesla project is expected to create thousands of jobs for residents of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties - a prospect emphasized by Newsom, who says job creation will be one of his top priorities if he is elected governor next year.
"San Francisco is stimulating the regional economy and not just its own economy," Newsom said. "You want to solve a budget deficit, focus on the economy and creating jobs."
Newsom has been traveling extensively around the state, stopping in Central Valley cities, including Fresno and Stockton, for town hall meetings. "I'm starting to actually know the side streets very well," he said. "I feel very much at home."
That may be hard to imagine for a politician best known outside the Bay Area for championing same-sex marriage. Leroy Ornellas, chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, said he'd never met Newsom before Thursday and knew only that he was "mayor of San Francisco - not much else."
Ornellas said it would be a challenge for Newsom to make inroads in the Central Valley. "San Francisco's a very unique county," he said. "Its interests are different than ours."
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