Emergency Water Rationing In Santa Cruz Curtails Residents' Water Supply Technical Treatment Glitch

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

BTW, There is a VERY active Y2K community effort on-going in Santa Cruz... just over the hill from Silicon Valley.

Those undisclosed glitches can really ruin your day!

Is this Y2K related? Don't know... yet. Think of it as a "fragile" infrastructure lesson... for now.


Santa Cruz Curtails Residents' Water Supply
Chronicle Staff Report
Thursday, August 19, 1999
)1999 San Francisco Chronicle


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Residents of Santa Cruz and some surrounding areas were told yesterday to cut their water use by 50 percent because of ``technical problems'' at the city's water treatment plant.

Under an emergency edict, people are forbidden to water their lawns or gardens, wash their cars, sidewalks and driveways or fill any swimming pools, fountains or hot tubs. Car washes have been shut down; public showers have been closed, and residents are being asked to shower and flush their toilets only when necessary and to limit showers to three minutes.

Residents are even being asked to use paper plates and plastic utensils to conserve water normally used for dish-washing.

The ban, expected to last three or four days, affects about 90,000 people, including residents in parts of Capitola, Rolling Woods, Pasatiempo, Carbonera and Live Oak.

Santa Cruz officials said the problems at the city's water treatment plant have caused extremely low water supplies. There is nothing wrong with the water that is available, the city's announcement said.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999


Published Thursday, August 19, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News

Santa Cruz rations use of water

Mercury News Staff Writer

http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/local/docs/ ration19p.htm

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Santa Cruz's 90,000 water customers were put on emergency rationing Wednesday evening after a malfunction at the city's treatment plant severely cut production.

The 50 percent cutback order is expected to last three or four days while the city replenishes its supply of treated water, Water Director Bill Kocher said.

``Because we were producing almost no water during the day, our storage is very, very low,'' Kocher said. ``We've got to have people cut back water use dramatically or supplies are going to run out.''

[Producing almost no water during the day? Working on something, perhaps?]

The rationing order prohibits all outdoor water use throughout the city's water service area, which includes all of Santa Cruz and Live Oak and parts of Capitola.

It bars watering lawns, gardens or landscaping, filling pools, hot tubs and fountains, and washing cars, boats, driveways, sidewalks and buildings.

Car-wash businesses and public showers were ordered closed, and nurseries were barred from watering their inventories until the rationing is lifted.

``We'll lose all of our plant inventory if it goes on more than a day,'' said Charlie Keutmann, owner of the Garden Company on Mission Street. ``By midafternoon, things will start drooping. If this thing runs three to four days as they are anticipating, I'll probably lose $25,000 in inventory.''

Indoor water use for drinking, cooking, washing and toilet flushing was not restricted, but city water officials asked that residential and business customers limit their use. They recommended limiting showers to three minutes, and bathing, washing and flushing toilets only when necessary.

Kocher said the more water customers can save, the sooner the system will be replenished and the rationing order lifted.

The sudden rationing, coming in a year in which rainfall has been plentiful, temperatures cool and supplies high, came as an unexpected reminder of the drought years of the early 1990s.

City officials asked residents to turn in neighbors who cheat, and said violators could face a shut-off.

``We couldn't continue to provide water to a residence that's running it down the gutter,'' Kocher said.

Many residents were unaware of the late-day rationing announcement but seemed unconcerned.

``We had water rationing in the 1970s, and we went with it,'' Patti Martin said. ``We have a lot of native plants that don't need as much watering.''

The problem first surfaced about 11 p.m. Tuesday when alarms at the city's treatment plant on Graham Hill Road began signaling a problem with the water clarity, Kocher said. Unable to solve the problem by 3 a.m., the water department began cutting back production to ensure that delivered water was potable, he said.

Water officials expected to have the problem under control by midday Wednesday, but it proved more complicated than they had anticipated, Kocher said.

During the summer, the city produces about 14 million gallons of treated water. By noon Wednesday, that level had dropped to about 2 million, Kocher said.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

Diane: I just heard on KGO radio 810 AM that it is a technical problem at the water treatment plant and they are working on it....whatever that means. Aprroximately 5 years ago, that water treatment facility was upgraded and the engineering firm that worked on the project is Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, CA. Also, SF Airport was black-out this morning due to a fire in a manhole. They don't know what caused it, PG&E is working on it.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), August 19, 1999.

Turn in your neighbors?

What's next, turn in your parents?

-- Deborah (infowars@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

Santa Cruz Y2K Community Task Force -- Welcome!


Local Water (Treatment & Y2K Info)

http:// www.y2ksantacruz.org/y2kinfo/water.htm

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

"Water officials expected to have the problem under control by midday Wednesday, but it proved more complicated than they had anticipated ..."

Add refrain to broilerplate log ...

Diane, thanks for vacation-emerging to bring us such pertinent news.
Illustrative of the jolts along the RISE OF POPOCATEPETL bitr.
Got water?

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), August 19, 1999.

bardou (and company),

Looking for the Santa Cruz County Sentinel web-site, but they may have taken it down.

For additional Bay Area concerns, see...

The Pentagon Papers of Y2k

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 001GWN

Jim Lord: Secret Government Study Reveals Massive Y2K Problems in American Cities

http:// www.jimlord.to/secretsurvey.cfm

Check out: Cities At Risk

http:// www.jimlord.to/CitiesatRisk.cfm

44 cities where "total failure is likely."

San Jose CA 782,000 -- Sewer utilities. An "x" in the column indicates that utility is expected to fail.


Basically, the Santa Clara (San Jose) Water District supplies the lower Silicon Valley (and as I recall handles the sewage treatment too)... wonder how they are on the "clean water" end of the cycle?



-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

Hi Ashton & Leska,

Yes that little "tidbit" flags me too.

Cant even find a warning message... yet...


http://www.ci.santa- cruz.ca.us/wt/

City of Santa Cruz web-site

http://www.ci.santa- cruz.ca.us/

Search Santa Cruz City's Web Sites

http:// www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/search/search.html

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

Got a potty chair?

-- deep doo-doo (Cali@warm.in.winter), August 19, 1999.

Anyone have knowledge of what IS the source of their water? It's hard to speculate as to why there was a turbidity problem without knowing what type of supply it is.

Darn shame that the whole city has to suffer because of a POTABILITY problem. Supports my contention that we shouldn't be treating all the water to make it potable when only about 1% of it needs to be potable. Most of it goes down the drain, onto the lawn, etc. rather than into our bodies.

From your article, Diane, it appears that there was plenty of water available, but because it was slightly turbid, they wouldn't allow it into the system.

Lawns, toilets, driveways, etc. don't care if the water is not crystal clear.

If we only treated the water we needed to, we could also reduce the amount of environmental risks involved in our water systems, as well. (mostly chlorine, but also various other chemicals) Could also reduce the water costs for those of us who live in cities. My well water, for instance, costs me slightly less than EIGHT CENTS per 1000 gallons for electricity. I have installed many, many pump systems over the last twenty plus years, am still involved with five of them, and have only ever had one pump fail. Other repair costs have been nominal (a couple of relays at five bucks each, a capacitor or two at ten bucks or so)

My point in explaining my costs is to show how much of the cost of CITY WATER appears to be for water treatment. The water in the city closest to me (Grants Pass, Oregon) was $1.15 per 1000 gallons (14 times that of my well water).

Has anyone else ever bothered to find out how much they are paying per 1000 gallons of water? It's interesting.

Too bad also that Santa Cruz couldn't have just issued a boil order and allowed people to go ahead and water their gardens, orchards, nurseries, etc, rather than forcing people to allow all their plants to die, at great expense, perhaps bankrupting some businesses.

Oh, well.


-- Al K. Lloyd (al@ready.now), August 19, 1999.

I suspect the volunteers at the Santa Cruz Y2K Community Task Force, will eventually know more. Their water page is pretty comprehensive on the local resources.

Contact page...

http:// www.y2ksantacruz.org/taskforce/contact.htm

(BTW, William Ulrich, Tactical Strategy Group, Inc. has been one of their early organizers and local Y2K activists).

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

AK Loyd (sp ?) -

This is very typical of the kind of problem to expect from water supply systems: look at their statements: the reason they can't deliver water is because an alarm sensing cleanliness (clarity) tripped off - it found a problem. There is only one delivery system in each water system, you can't "separate" the users who need "non-potable" water for plants or local irrigation from those who use it for drinking, washing, and cooking and the food preparation industry (fruits, canning, wine, Coke plants, soft drinks and bottles, soup, noodles, rice, potatoes, whatever.)

< Water officials expected to have the problem under control by midday Wednesday, but it proved more complicated than they had anticipated, Kocher said. >>

So, whenever they get a "potable" water problem, they have to (bureacratcally) stop all production of water, or risk contaminating the good water in the pipes with the bad water from the water treatment and purification plant. (If the pipes get contaminated, then they need days of flushing to verify the delivered water is pure again.)

So, they (the water treatment plant) have to go off-line until the problem is fixed.

Note that the ultimate problem was the alarm about the clarity, not the clarity itself nor the water quality itself.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), August 19, 1999.


-- I BELIEVE. (dogs@zianet.com), August 19, 1999.

Hi, Robert,

I agree with you. There is an inherent weakness in the system, vis a vis water clarity (and there could have been any number of other water quality problems which would have had the same result).

That's why I suggested that cities change their modus operandi--stop purifying all the water. This could be accomplished in two ways:

1) A two pipe delivery system. This is difficult to implement in an existing system--too much excavation involved. That's not to say it's not the best solution, though)

2) All potable water could be delivered by truck, in bottles. This system is being used with apparent success in Lima, Peru, a city of over seven million people. The water which comes through the pipes has been chlorinated, but is not considered potable. The potable water is delivered a couple of times a week in five gallon bottles. This potable water is used for drinking and cooking only.

I appreciate your stating that "Note that the ultimate problem was the alarm about the clarity, not the clarity itself nor the water quality itself." I did not notice that statement when I read the articles.

However, I cannot believe that the water plant would shut off the water for this amount of time for a false alarm. They would certainly test the water manually, using a turbidimeter.

What does surprise me is that they shut the water down at all. I wonder how high the turbidity levels were. I've never heard of a city having to shut down the water due to turbidity before. In Arcata, California, where I used to live, whenever the Mad River got highly turbid, the turbididy in our water supply was high enough to appear muddy in the toilet bowl, yet therer was never any requirement to shut off the water supply. The turbidity itself is not harmful, it's just another indication of possible contamination. Since the water in the Mad River is always contaminated, biologically, as are ALL surface water sources, it is already being treated for that type of contamination.

Do you know what the source of the water for Santa Cruz is?


-- Al K. Lloyd (al@ready.now), August 19, 1999.

We are suffering a terrible drought here in our area. Our soil is also not the type that holds water for long anyway so things dry out quickly. We have a water well and I've become very careful with our water. I now use a dishpan and keep a bucket handy to pour in all the dishwater (graywater). We also keep two bucket in the shower to catch water from our quick showers to pour on our trees.

We don't water the yard; it either makes it or it doesn't. We use a soaker hose on the garden and have a 750 gallon tank of rainwater we caught earlier in the year to water it with.

I think all of us should conserve water every chance we get. Water is our most precious commodity and it's criminal the way we waste it.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), August 20, 1999.

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