Will we get Water?

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Most likely, come this dreaded year 00, electric power will diminish.
My question is: Will they be able to route this little bit electricity, which we still have, precicely to the water utility plants so that at least we won't thirst to death?

-- Obin (Obin@fla.net), December 26, 1998


# # # 19981226


My understanding re water & treatment systems, is that EPA-approved-- sound familiar?! ( A la underground, computerized-with-no-manual- backup, fuel/petrol tanks! )--will present the largest risks. Local ( albeit lame! ) TV ( WDIV, channel 4, Detroit, MI ) Y2K coverage, a couple of weeks ago, included a non-assuring snippet with the water & sewerage department head, admonishing people to have at least "several days" of water on hand. I don't know what a region like ( here in ) southeast Michigan, with 4,000,000-some population dependent upon Detroit for water, is going to do without proper pressure for flushing without electricity? The spokesman didn't say! Talk about dangling journalism. ( Ever notice there's no OBVIOUS follow up on these issues? )

Modern water treatment plants use computer controllers for everything: flow ( in/out ) control, chemical mixing, aeroation, "critter" monitoring, et al. Each plant is unique, adding to the complexity of obtaining special order, date-functional "embedded" systems, on spec and in the time remaining ( re-engineering & logistics ).

Three-to-seven days without water/sanitation services and any population will be a desparate population.

These are the "thorny" issues that won't be addressed forthrightly in the public arena. Why not? Panic inducers, without proper public education about storage techniques and conservation on an unprecedented scale. Even FEMA folks can't address this one! They're the "experts." Ha!

Let's see ... you're in FL ... low water table there, right? You may be able to get away with digging a very shallow well, to make due. Check it out. The worst you'll discover--earlier than others-- is that you'll need to adjust your preps accordingly! Won't hurt.

Good luck. ( Watch out for alligators--four-legged AND 2-legged! )

Regards, Bob Mangus # # #

-- Robert Mangus (rmangus@mail.netquest.com), December 26, 1998.

Most drinking water needs to be pumped and treated. No electricity, no drinking water. Check to see if your local water company has back up generators for pumping and treating. If they do, ask how long the generators will run without additional fuel supplies. If they don't, buy yourself some water storage containers or dig a shallow well.

Sewer plants will shut down. Plan to block your sewer main out of your house. A rubber stopper can be bought at a hardware store and access is through the clean out, or have a plumber install a cut off valve somewhere at the end of your main. You don't want any reverse flow to come into your house.

-- Bill (bill@microsoft.com), December 26, 1998.

One other thing you might want to put on your prep lists: Lime.

I was talking to my mother about water utility and treatment plants. She said, "be sure and get plenty of lime". I've been picking her brain about lots of things lately concerning post Y2k. This is another commododity we have going for us. The elderly remember how they did things pre-tech, and have a wealth of knowledge.

Btw, my Mom's 75 and after talking to her for 1 1/2 hours about the "bug", she got it immediately.


-- Cary Mc from Tx (Caretha@compuserve.com), December 27, 1998.

Great idea on the lime, Cary! I remember the little bucket of lime in my grandparents' outhouse, and just remembered the "latrine duty" we had to pull in Scout camp when we got caught goofing off. Always consisted of adding a bunch of lime..... it's good to kill the bacteria, and keeps critters out of the place. My mom grew up on a farm, and has been a wealth of knowledge about ideas on primitive survival..... primitive compared to what we've become accustomed to, anyway. And she's one of the best fire-starters I've ever seen!

If we are lucky enough to have water, septic tanks are a good thing to have, in case the sewer treatment plants don't work. And if one doesn't have the Rid-X septic system treatment on hand, one person mentioned a good substitute is just plain old table salt. Add a cupful once a month, to keep the bacteria working.

I'm making a note to get my septic tank cleaned out this next year.

-- Kent Lawrence (klawren@midusa.net), December 27, 1998.

In my southern California town/city the city has only enough emergency power for 3 days of water distribution should there be a gridwise failure. At least that is what the presenter to the city coucil said in October of this year. The Mayor and the city council folks turned pale,...especially when every provider of services to the city said: "We should be okay as long as we have power".

FYI if you are going to use chat room smile don't put an S inside a set of arrows....HTML coeding,..it caused your strike throughs, methinks.

(music for every occasion): "All day I've faced the barren wastes without the taste of water. Cool water...(water!)"

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), December 27, 1998.

Obin, in your preparations, plan everything as if the electricity IS going off for an extended period of time -- water too. Ive also contacted my local water company, and at least theyve said they will start posting their Y2K status on their web-site. Well see.

Cary, BTW, my mom is an absolute wealth of survival information. At 77 shes done it all -- the depression, WWII, camping, hiking, kayaking, Sierra Club member for most her life, etc. Because of Y2K weve connected on a level wed never reached before. Her job now is to gather the information shes be squirreling away for years, and Ill type it on computer into readable form to distribute to our local city council and disaster preparedness groups. (Shes even taking Internet for Seniors classes. Go figure).


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 27, 1998.


"Cary, BTW, my mom is an absolute wealth of survival information. At 77 shes done it all -- the depression, WWII, camping, hiking, kayaking, Sierra Club member for most her life, etc."

Yeah, our hidden resource..."Wise Older Citizens" who have seen it all. My Mom is on the internet and has been for 2 years. I added this forum to Favorite Places for her so she could check out threads that might interest her, and help her keep up on what's going on. I'm a little worried though because of the content of some of the threads lately. I'm sure she'll be less than impressed.

My Mom survived the depression, the Dust Bowl and WWII. She and my father traveled the Mississippi in a 30 ft cruiser one summer, and in '55 they traveled in a VW van through parts of Mexico that I wouldn't go to now. When I was a young girl, they moved the family to a farm in Missouri in the middle of the Ozarks. Most homes didn't have electricity and even fewer had indoor plumbing. What I learned living on a farm for all those years and growing all our own food and raising our own livestock, I wouldn't trade for all the "Tea in China".


-- Cary Mc from Tx (Caretha@compuserve.com), December 27, 1998.

Water - supply side as well as return side - is an unknown quantity amid the endless mindless refrains heard from mainstream reporters about "planes falling from skies".

However - water pressure is also required for firefighting and (economically speaking) hundreds of thousands of industrial heating, cooling,and processing tasks. Firefighting affects truck units trying to get water from hydrants, and from apartment and office buildings using "risers" from the basement hookup to local sprinklers.

Just something else to think about. Sewage failure at processing plants will (we think) mainly affect the quality of water in downstream cities. However the porcessing and treatment of downstream drinking water requires power and controls at the chlorination plants ....

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), December 27, 1998.

I found this article on water supply for San Diego county in the North County Times. It says the water supply is gravity fed and valves can be operated manually if necessary, also if the upstream supply is not working there is about a 45 day reserve. (I just scanned it in with Omnipage8).

Water flow could be resistant to Y2K

Saturday, December 26, 1998
Jonathan Heller
Staff Writer

To move water throughout the county, many agencies don't rely solely on computers or even electricity.

Good old-fashioned gravity makes the water flow through most of the pipes and aqueducts, making the county's water network fairly resistant to the much talked-about year 2000 computer bug.

"Our pipelines are nothing more than giant garden hoses," said Gary Eaton, operations and maintenance manager for the San Diego County Water Authority. "We're very fortunate."

Officials say you can expect water to spring from your tap on Jan. 1, 2000, even if the country's computers have a hangover from the millennium bug, and even if that bug bites the power grid, creating a region-wide blackout.

But a lot depends on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region's giant water wholesaler that currently supplies all of the county's imported water. The county imports up to 90 percent of its total water needs.

Metropolitan has launched a $7.8 million project to scour its myriad computer systems for the so-called Y2K problem, which could affect computer chips that read dates in two-digit formats, such as "99" for 1999. Those chips might hiccup - or worse - when 2000 arrives, mistaking "00" for 1900.

Overall, Metropolitan's goal is to inventory and analyze up to 35,000 devices, ranging from elevators to security systems to chemical monitors, by June 30.

All of the county's imported water is stored by Metropolitan at Lake Skinner, just east of Temecula. It is piped down through County Water Authority lines that branch off to the individual municipal water agencies that distribute it directly to homes and businesses.

Since Lake Skinner is at a higher elevation than much of San Diego County, water can flow here by gravity. The reservoir's release valves can also be operated manually in the event of a computer crash or power failure, said Rob Hallwachs, a Metropolitan spokesman.

The water treatment plant there can be operated without computers if necessary, but the cost in manpower would be high. The internal team looking for year 2000 problems has recently turned its attention to this issue, said Ed Means, Metropolitan's deputy general manager.

"Our main focus now is on water-treatment systems and the programs that allow us to monitor and analyze water quality," Means said.

The other issue is supply. Lake Skinner holds 40,000 acre-feet of usable water. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough to meet the average annual needs of two families. If Metropolitan temporarily loses the ability to replenish the reservoir, the 40,000 acre-feet translates to about 45 days of water at best for the county's 2.7 million residents; longer if the county employs mandatory cutbacks, said Dennis Cushman, a Water Authority spokesman.

Beyond that, San Diego can share water with other cities who draw from Lake Perris near Riverside and Lake Silverwood near San Bernadino, said Hallwachs, of Metropolitan.

Once the water is in the county network, gravity again takes over. A series of valves and junctions - which can be operated manually - siphon off water to individual water districts.

This is not to say all the Water Authority's technology is from the Dark Ages. A high-tech monitoring system shows the status of water moving through the system, the positions of valves, meter readings, and graphical representations of certain other conditions. Designed by a local company, most of that system is Y2K-ready, Eaton said, although some features, such as the graphics capability and data archiving, could be vulnerable. The Water Authority is currently considering a software upgrade that could cost between $10,000 and $20,000, Eaton said.

"That's more as insurance so there's absolutely no way the software can goof us up," he said.

Many local water districts, including ones in Encinitas, Escondido and Vista, also use gravity to move water or pumps that can be operated manually in a pinch, water officials say.

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District in Encinitas uses a system that is 95 percent gravity fed, said Dianne O'Brien, the district's general manager. The remaining 5 percent of the system that services low-lying areas can be fed through pumps if necessary.

Olivenhain's main concern is making sure its finance and accounting systems are immune to the bug.

"Obviously, we need to make sure we'll be able to bill people," O'Brien said.

The district is also upgrading software in systems that let workers peer into tanks and pipelines through remote cameras and measuring devices, she said.

Escondido expects no problems with its water treatment and distribution system be cause most of the vital equipment is more than two decades old and relies on simple electrical relays and valves, not computer chips, said Glen Peterson, the city's assistant utilities manager.

Like Olivenhain, Escondido's system uses gravity to move water through most of the city; the low-lying parts can be serviced by pump stations using backup generators, he said.

The Vallecitos Water District, which primarily serves San Marcos and parts of Carlsbad, has six water-pumping stations and 23 outlets to push water through the system, said Michael Kidd, the district's water quality inspector. Manual override is available on the system, which is basically controlled by hydraulics.

Some cities, such as Carlsbad, Poway, and Vista, have relatively new or upgraded administrative systems that stand a better chance of fending off the Y2K bug, officials in those cities report. Carlsbad's system has tested OK; Vista has recently completed an upgrade and reports the same; Poway has hired a consultant to review that city's system.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), December 29, 1998.

Water-related comment for the S.F. & L.A. areas in recent articles. -- Diane

Everyone's passing the buck RICK ACKERMAN Dec. 27, 1998 )1998 San Francisco Examiner

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/ 1998/12/27/BUSINESS6096.dtl

... Recently, the Y2K coordinators of some municipal water companies sat down behind closed doors with their electric-company counterparts to ask for the lowdown on Y2K progress, according to a South Bay risk management consultant with clients in both industries.

The water utilities evidently were not reassured and purchased backup diesel generators soon afterward, according to the consultant, Larry McArthur, CEO of San Jose-based Ascent Logic Corporation. ...


Look out for the computer millenium's ripple effect LARRY GERBER, Associated Press Writer Friday, December 18, 1998

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/ 1998/12/18/state1937EST0076.DTL

(12-18) 16:37 PST ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- A U.S. senator warned Friday of a ``ripple effect'' that could result in dirty water or dry taps if suppliers don't have their equipment and people ready for what promises to be the world's biggest computer glitch Jan. 1, 2000. ...

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 29, 1998.

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