By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Water is flowing through the ditches, canals and rebuilt flumes on the Utica Power Authority's system.
Nine months and 14 days after the Darby Fire cut off UPA's water system, the water was turned back on Wednesday.
Rebuilding the historic three-quarter mile flume was complicated by the steep cliffside terrain and winter weather. Helicopters had to fly in portions of the iron trestle that held the wooden flume boxes.
While crews labored from the fall to this month, a temporary overland pipe system powered by pumps kept about 10 cubic feet a second flowing to the city of Angels Camp, Murphys and other nearby communities.
When water began flowing Wednesday, UPA operators watched for leaks or other problems, but saw none, said Operator Dave Powell.
He said the flow was increased to 30 cubic feet a second Friday. "Angels Creek will have about two-and-a-half cubic feet a second in it and Murphys Creek will have 20 cubic feet a second," he said.
Water in the restarted system flowed at a rate of 20 cubic feet per second, and there is no longer any need for people to practice emergency conservation, said John Hubbell, UPA field administrator.
"Everything's fine, we're back to normal," he said.
UPA's two powerhouses one in Murphys and one in Angels Camp have been idle since the Darby Fire destroyed the flumes Sept. 5.
Powell said he will begin energy tests this week to bring the powerhouses back on line. By next week he said he will start bringing up the generators.
Customers using Utica Power Authority water were last week asked to cut back use after two of the system's temporary pumps burned out, shutting off much of the water from the overland pipe system.
The pump failure came just as UPA crews were completing the last stages of flume restoration and prepared to move from the temporary water pipes to the fully repaired flume and canal system.