16 August 2014

Canyon Hills Tract's Bacteria-Infected Water Line!

UPDATE, 6 September:  A new article in the Champion this past weekend reported that several further water and chlorine tests of the main line at the Canyon Hills tract reveals continued bacteria levels beyond acceptable levels.  Chino Hills Public Works Director Nadeem Majaj was quoted as saying that the next step was to hook up the main line to the city's water system and resume testing.  One wonders how common this kind of situation is and why it has taken several tests (and lots of wasted water--although the numbers of gallons used on recent tests was less than the 750,000 gallons from early August) to get to the point of moving on to the hookup with the city's lines.

As reported by Marianne Napoles in tomorrow's (well, today's since it just passed midnight) edition of The Champion, Forestar Homes, developer of the 76-unit Canyon Hills tract just east of Sleepy Hollow on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road, has been trying to flush chlorinated water through its new water main line because of a bacterial infestation from an unknown source.

A 5 August test conducted at the site revealed the infection and, while the news was out at the local Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council meeting the next day that there had been a flushing of the lines totaling 750,000 gallons of water, it was not then known that the problem was bacterial in nature.

The flushing of the line was in preparation for connection to the local domestic water supply, but this is now delayed because health standards required for the linkage have obviously not been met. 

As reported by Napoles, there have been five flushes of the line took place between 28 July and 5 August, with all resulting in positive tests for bacteria, and a sixth one was being readied, for as early as this coming Monday the 18th, that would involve, "a heavier dose of chlorine" with the aftermath necessitating the move to "keep the pipe sealed over the weekend to strive to achieve 100 percent pathogenic-bacteria kill."  Further, as part of the effort, the article continued, "sodium thiosulfate is being used to neutralize the chlorine." 

According to Nadeem Majaj, public works director for the City of Chino Hills, the discharge of the de-chlorinated water was to be conducted using a permit held by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Even though water was being released toward Carbon [Canyon] Creek, the piece went on to say that "a permit is not required from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife," which has jurisdiction over the creek, "because there will be no physical alteration to the receiving stream."  Well, the creek gets so much runoff from pesticide-saturated sources like Western Hills Country Club and nearby homes that water with chlorine, sodium thiosulfate and/or bacteria is probably not going to make much difference in the quality of the creek!

UPDATE, 2 OCTOBER 2014:  Well, this is embarrassing!  It's been pointed out that City Engineer Steve Nix has stated that the highest cost charged in Tier 3, where the most water usage is calculated at $3.75 per ccf.  This blogger stated below that the highest cost was $11.50, which is a gross misstatement based on a poor reading of a simply-worded city water bill.  That figure was actually that there was 11.5 ccf used in Tier 2 for a total per ccf cost of $2.81.  As seen below, Forestar was being charged at $3 per ccf.

Now, what has happened in the six weeks since this post is that further flushing of the lines has been conducted, so that a little over 2 million gallons has been used, far greater than the 750,000 gallons that was flushed up until two months ago.  A Carbon Canyon resident has raised important concerns about the amount of water essentially being dumped into Carbon [Canyon] Creek during an increasingly worsening drought, as well as wondering if any damage is being done due to the chlorine content in the water.

So, the material below is being crossed out as inaccurate, though retained to show what was originally said, as well as being a reminder to this blogger to be more careful!

The total cost to Forestar for the use of 750,000 gallons of water is $3,009 at the "non-residential rate" of $3 per ccf (748 gallons.)  By way of illustration, residential charges can be as high as $11.50 per ccf for consumption over 13 ccfs, as shown on this blogger's current water bill.  This flushing involved just over 1,000 ccfs.  If a resident was to, theoretically, utilize 750,000 gallons of water at the prevailing residential rate that is three times higher, the cost would be just in excess of $11,500.

Speaking of excess, given our increasingly-worsening drought and the growing need for conservation, this "non-residential rate" seems awfully low as a volume discount, though there would undoubtedly be arguments that there is an economic benefit to this project that compensated for the reduced rate, but that's another story for another day.  Maybe one that can be coupled with the recent revelations that the City of Chino Hills charges nearly $200 for a permit in a residence to install a water heater.

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