Technically, it’s a Turbidity Exceedance Tier 2 Violation.
State officials contend they couldn’t see clearly enough, so they wrote up the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant for having cloudy water.
But not a single customer tasted a thing.
Castaic Lake Water Agency General Manager Dan Masnada said that the violation happened when the water was turned back on after the plant was down two months for regularly scheduled maintenance.
“It’s kind of like flying a plane, you do a flight check and go through a list. Startup is the most critical phase and we expect high turbidity, or cloudy water, after the shutdown, when scale, dust and sediment inside the pipelines are flushed out from the inside of the pipes and into the treatment plant process,” he said.
This time, a combination of operator error and some ferric chloride (a chemical used to clear particles from treated water) resulted in water that was cloudier than normal, but nothing that would endanger public health.
“The combination of the equipment failure and operator error caused us to violate certain provisions of our operating permit,” Masnada said.
Officials from the Department of Public Health and CLWA management met on March 29 to review data and examine the re-start process. It was then that the state issued the violation, which brings with it a public notification element.
“The DPH requires that the notice be published as soon as practical and that a copy of the notice be sent to any potentially affected customer by April 26,” he said. “That type of violation, a Tier 2, means that there’s no immediate or acute public health hazard. If there had been one, we would have been telling people to boil water and provided an immediate notification.
The plant is expected to be put back into service in mid-to-late April.
“We will be conducting a thorough review of our operating protocol and procedures and revise them as appropriate to ensure any similar occurrences aren’t repeated in the future.”
Masnada said that CLWA will be bringing in an outside consultant to assess the situation and make recommendations. He added that the plant has never been in violation of their permit before.
Notices will be sent to all customers of CLWA retailers, including Valencia Water, Newhall County Water (except for some residences in Castaic) and Santa Clarita Water Division.
“Water got out there that may have gotten to those residents, even though it would have been diluted with ground water and such,” he said. “But the DPH is acting out of an abundance of caution.”
For more information, visit the CLWA online at www.clwa.org.