Monday, June 9, 2014

Blue Baby Syndrome & Nitrification - How Sierra Madre's Yellow Water Crisis Is Getting Worse.

An even stranger brew
Now that high end McMansions are on the horizon for Sierra Madre it would appear that City Hall is finally going to get very serious about its ongoing yellow water problem. Right?

After all, you're just not going to be able to shift a hundred or so $2.5 million dollar love shacks if the stuff coming out of the taps of Sierra Madre looks a lot more like an end product than anything you'd care to use for actual household purposes. Like possibly even drinking the stuff. This has been going on for some time now, and the problem doesn't look like it's getting any better.

(Mod Interrupts: If you haven't heard yet - and so far only a handful have - there is an acute new danger lurking in Sierra Madre's edgy water supply that makes the discoloration problem look like child's play. I've saved that new information for the end of this article, just like City Hall did in its related Staff Report.)

Of course, in the past we were given at least some reason for hope. We were told that somehow the yellow water problem would, in time, remedy itself naturally. Here is an example of that now obsolete messaging approach, taken from an article published by The Pasadena Star News sometime during last March (link):

Sierra Madre City Council says it’s premature to re-impose water penalties The City Council backed off plans to impose water conservation penalties after residents complained it would be unfair to punish them for running their faucets until orange or yellow water turns clear.

The murky, odorous water made its first appearance in early October when Sierra Madre shut off its wells and began using supplies from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Experts said the city’s tainted water should clear up by next month, but Bruce Inman, the director of public works, said the forecast is based on an inexact science.

“The estimates that we received were that normally it takes three to six months,” Inman said. “Now there are variables to that, like the age of the water system, the amount of (rust and deposits) that is in the system. ... The fact that some of our pipelines are 90 years old, that’s 90 years of accumulation of this stuff. It could take longer than six months, but we’re hoping it’s less than that.”

Inexact science is something that many Sierra Madre residents have become used to in the last year or so. Much of it invented on the fly in order to keep the townies off City Hall's back, especially before last April's election.

Imposing financial water conservation penalties on yellow water over-usage, and right on the heels of having raised water rates for the second time in several years, would have been in bad taste, so to speak. And it is admirable the City Council at that time recognized this. They were willing instead to wait until our water cleared up before dunning us with even more water costs.

Unfortunately for them, it now appears that the "experts" Bruce Inman spoke so hopefully about weren't quite as clued into the extent of the problems here as first believed. And the whole thing about Sierra Madre's yellowed water clearing up in a month, or in three to six months depending on who at City Hall you spoke to last, is no longer operative.

And how do we know this? From the following agenda item, prepared for tomorrow evening's City Council meeting. It would appear that we are about to reach an entirely new elevation in Sierra Madre's ongoing Yellow Water Crisis. Check out the latest bold new thinking (link):


Certainly this would indicate that there is not much left in the city's vision tank, and it's yellow water problem solving has now been played out. It also appears that the people who have been calling the shots until now have lost confidence in what they've been doing. So much so that they've thrown up their hands, cried "Uncle!" and are begging the City Council for a $50,000 dollar water consultant to come and save them.

In other words, this all smells like panic. And, as I alluded to earlier, there is a perfectly frightening reason for that.

The attached Staff Report sheds some necessary light upon the depths of confusion and despair downtown (link):


Right. This is followed by a long laundry list of the "proactive" things City Staff attempted to do in its fight to end the yellow water peril. However, there is no need to list them here as none actually worked. Staff is just pleading for understanding.

Finally, and this is what I was referring to earlier, we have now reached the paragraph in the Staff Report that reveals an entirely new reason for this $50,000 consultant. It is likely the real one.


In other words, they are not just completely fresh out of ideas, "water staff" also knows that the situation is becoming dangerous and could easily get much worse, and soon. In case you are not aware, "nitrification" is a potentially deadly consequence of using chloramines. Especially during the warm summer months.

Here is a short explanation of the possible dire consequences of nitrification to human beings, taken from a report called Chloramines: The Good and the Bad (link):


Blue Baby Syndrome. Have you ever heard of it? This from Wikipedia (link):

A sort of "blue baby syndrome" can also be caused by Methemoglobinemia. It is believed to be caused by high nitrate contamination in ground water resulting in decreased oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in babies leading to death. The groundwater is thought to be contaminated by leaching of nitrate generated from fertilizer used in agricultural lands and waste dumps. It may also be related to some pesticides (DDT, PCBs etc.), which cause ecotoxicological problems in the food chains of living organisms, increasing BOD, which kills aquatic animals.

Can we say "potential systemic catastrophic failure" yet? Has anyone alerted Moody's?

I seriously doubt that City Staff would be asking this City Council for $50,000 to hire a water purity consultant unless it had absolutely no other choice. Not in this tax and political environment. Staff is going down this road because they are simply at wit's end. They now know there are some serious problems that can't just be swept under the rug like they were in the past.

It is one thing to supply the city with water that kills pet fish. It is quite another matter if that water also has the potential for killing human infants.

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53 comments:

  1. First they threaten the library. Now they come after the babies. I should have voted for the uut!

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    Replies
    1. Do you think that if city staff had given itself a raise the water would get better?

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    2. The library... can we all agree that it's not worth the money, or are you reading a print version of The Tattler?

      Is the library continually funded on some belief that kids will harken back to the days of books with paper pages that forests were leveled to create? NO I think not.

      There are many choices for a FREE library.
      Here are a few:
      http://worldlibrary.org/
      https://archive.org/
      http://www.gutenberg.org/
      http://books.google.com/
      http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/
      https://openlibrary.org/
      http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/
      http://www.bartleby.com/
      http://www.bibliomania.com/
      http://ebooks.nypl.org/E8DA3CBD-CE67-459A-823A-C5EEF652E650/10/50/en/Default.htm
      http://manybooks.net/
      http://openj-gate.org/

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    3. There is no print version of the Tattler, but their should be. Wider audience for one thing. I have my computer sitting on my lap on top of the LA Times, and when the whole world in on line and the thing loads up slow, I read the printed page. The night before I read the on line news and reread it the next a.m. The TV makes a slight reference to something happening worlds away that is of faint interest to Americans/Californians and Iook it up on line before it hits the print the next day. All three things work together to stay informed.

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    4. A public library serves more purposes than just books. It is a meeting place, an educational place for children to appreciate the power of the written word, and it also is a source of computers for those who do not have a computer -- and you'd be surprised how many people do not have computers in this day and age. No, let's leave our library alone and focus on other frivolous activities of the City.

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    5. Wake up and smell the chloramine coffee, 5:40 AM! The ones that threatened the library, and the ones that are endangering the babies, are the same people that wanted the UUT! Yes, the very same.

      In a small town, you need money to keep citizens in the dark. And you need a lot more money for covering up your dumb mistakes.
      If they had gotten the UUT, they would have been able to do even more damage to all of us that much faster.

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    6. We pay for the city's lawyers. You, on the other hand, have to pay for your own.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Did anyone see the dog and pony show our city manager and public works guru put on at the Planning Commission meeting? Seems city staff did a half ass job of putting plans together for the addition to the Hart park house. Well the Planning Commission said they would not just take staff "word" on it but wanted new plans. The city manager did not look pleased.

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    1. Elaine misses Nancy and Josh.

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    2. They really gave it to Elaine and staff. Told her this project was no different than any other and they needed plans. Lack of Senior's money was not their problem. It was great. Catch the replays.

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    3. Did anything Nancy Walsh touched live?

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    4. Certainly not the dead landscape in front of City Hall.

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  4. City government in Sierra Madre is in a state of collapse.

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  5. We have a pretty good City Council but a lousy staff. It starts with the City Manager. She needs to go along with Inman. We need to clean house. The water issue is a mess. We use three times as much water in an attempt to flush out the yellow water usually to no avail.

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    Replies
    1. Can someone please chime in with what would be involved to achieve Inman and Aguilar being ejected? Given that Elaine is top dog, who is responsible for her being hired and fired?

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    2. They serve at the pleasure of the City Council. Their tickets can be yanked at any time.

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    3. Maybe it is time to start passing a petition.

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  6. The consultant would only be there to cover city staff's butts. What secrets would this consultant have that the SGVMWD doesn't already have? After all, the chloramine problem comes from them. The real problem is this city's water infrastructure is decrepit and dirty. Years of incompetence and mismanagement have run it into the ground. And now that those chickens are coming home all staff can think to do is hire a consultant. One that will write a report that will say it isn't the fault of Sierra Madre's salaried employees. We need new people. Time to stop the madness.

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    Replies
    1. You are 100% right. They want to be able to say it's not our fault when the lawsuits start.

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  7. So that is what the water rate increase was for? To create a slush fund for consultants?

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    Replies
    1. Of course 6:58! It was for just that.
      This is so disgusting!!!!!!

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  8. Did we pay for the experts that told city staff the water would clean itself up?

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    Replies
    1. Call City Hall and ask. But not before 11.

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  9. How soon before the EPA steps in?

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  10. There is a big drilling machine in the middle of the Monastery field doing some type of drilling very noisy. I wonder if they have or need a permit.? City hall is closed...........

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  11. Regarding the excavation at the Monastery; SMPD not concerned, no way to contact City Hall,Left a message for Fire Marshall Snyder,Monastery says drilling for soil samples,who knows if they need a permit.Anyone know any important peoples phone numbers?

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  12. For years the city has used the water money for city hall needs, never putting the money into the water infrastructure. Now we are paying for city halls miss use of water funds and we are paying big time. Regarding the consultants for 50 grand, I would bet this problem has been dealt with and can be looked up on the internet, at least do your homework first before paying someone else to do it. This just keeps getting worse and we are paying for it in money and health. The present city hall management has put us in this spot, I think we need new employes to get us out of this mess. It is obvious they dont know what they are doing or what they are reading. Time for new problem solvers.

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  13. The way city hall treats this town is unbelievable. For what we are paying them I expect better.

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  14. Too bad the last City Council did not dump Colentano last year for the law firm that specialized in water. Hey Johnny what do you have to say about that? As to what staff knows about water, they know that it is wet and that's about it.
    We have the right to know where the nitrification is taking place and whose water is being affected by it. Is it different neighborhoods or the entire city. Based on how the City has handled this problem the both Elaine and Bruce should be fired for just cause. Their inept decisions are putting lives of the city in danger especially unborn children.

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  15. When does the code enforcement employee's day begin? It should start at 7 a.m. when workers come to town to start these building/excavation projects. If it starts before 7 a.m. (later on Sunday) then call the police!

    Parking in the canyon on Saturday, when City Hall is closed, was a mess along Alta Vista and Vista Circle. My neighbor called the PD but the officer responding was at a loss because "maybe the illegal parkers did not know the 'no parking anywhere' rule. There were 3 construction workers cars in the street. Sure they ran the plates and saw they were not local and therefore, what? For the canyon, the rule is the workers park out of the canyon and one car that has parking on the construction site drives them all in. Sorry for the inconvenience. This is a matter of public safety for the fire and ambulance to get into and out of the area in an emergency. Period!

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    Replies
    1. Nope, dummy we park where we want. You know the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules. So don't go away mad just go away.

      3 construction workers

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    2. I guess you must know then that Sierra Madre has the gold. Otherwise why would you three knuckleheads be hanging aound looking for hammer work?

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  16. Email sent to city council members:
    Name: David Link
    E-mail: mrdlink@
    Subject: Illegal drilling?
    Message: Denise there is a drilling machine excavating at the Monastery as I write this. City hall closed SMPD says not their department.I wonder if they have the permits? Does a citizen need permits for drilling on their property?
    Thanks

    Guess I just wait until it's already done for an answer...........

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  17. We lucked out in that we repiped our entire house (in the canyon) with copper when we redid a small kitchen project recently (demand hot water heater). Old, galvanized pipes were closed up with mineral deposits, much of it rusty looking. We have not had yellow water.

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    Replies
    1. goodie goodie for you.

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    2. It has nothing to do with the pipes on your property. It is the pipes that bring the water to your place where the damage gets done. I don't have yellow water at my house because I live in a part of the city that is not affected. Other parts of the city have not been as lucky.

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    3. You should see what comes out of the fire hydrant when they flush the lines. Our gutters are now orange.
      Nothing to do with our pipes.

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  18. Traveling though the central valley 30+ years ago on the "ghost highway" Interstate 5, all along the way at the rest stops there were warning signs for pregnant women not to drink the water--high in concentrated nitrates. This was due to the use of fertilizers in the neighboring farm lands. Farmers were not able to drink from their own family farm wells.

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  19. Unfortunately, the drilling for a soil sample on monastery land is probably their right - but it does show their intention to move full speed ahead, and have that information for the developer. Maybe they are getting it at the developer's request.

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  20. If the machine is so loud it is distrubing the peace then it is a concern of SMPD.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe it was one of the things the developer and Mater Dolorosa Board got out of City Staff during their private and confidential meetings. I can't imagine it is being done without a nod from City Hall.

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    2. SMPD came to my house twice over a three day period because my corgi was barking at workmen in the lot next door. The SMPD officer actually cased the joint until my super awesome wife returned from her morning run. So, noisy corgis fall within the jurisdiction of SMPD.

      Given this fact i am shocked - shocked i tell you - that SMPD would not investigate the ear splitting noise caused by a giant drilling machine at Mater Dolorsa. Maybe they were too busy giving tickets to hikers for not curbing their tires.

      BTW - this whole curbing the tire thing has been rendered a non-issue by this newfangled contraption called the "automatic transmission." Maybe SMPD should stop their profit generating campaign against non-curbers.

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    3. There are two classes in Sierra Madre right now. Developers, who get secret meetings at City Hall, under the table permits and the right to make all the noise they want. Then there are the darn townies. You know you have to watch those ones real close.

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    4. Since my water coloration has clear up, I decided to drink the stuff from the faucet. I gagged on the first swallow from the taste of it. Definitely not healthful.

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    5. Mix it with rum. It is called a Malaria Mai Tai.

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  21. Our water is not discolored, but we won't drink it. That means buying water, so the grocery bill has gone up, along with the water bill. City-wise, we are paying more for less.

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  22. Here is my question. As soon as the city knew there would be health risks because of these nitrification increases, shouldn't they have been screaming it from the rooftops? What is their priority here? Why the secrecy?

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    Replies
    1. Good question, 12:20. By not aggressively warning families with new babies and pregnant women, hasn't the "staff" just opened up the city for lawsuits that will make anything developers' threaten pale in comparison?

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    2. I agree. Shouldn't we have been warned by now?

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    3. Come on people, let's stand together and do what's needed to look into the prospect of firing Elaine and Bruce. These are epic failures. If they weren't so heavily pensioned, I might be able to tolerate them a while longer. Do you really think they've earned their pensions? Please!

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  23. My water is yellow, my neighbor water is yellow and the entire block is yellow. They flush our lines twice a week. It looks like my kids bathe in urine. I have emailed pictures to the city they have sent workers out and their only solution is to flush the lines 2xw. So much for a water shortage and let's be honest, this is not fixing the problem. I'll send a photo and you can see for yourself

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  24. Quick way to get this contaminated water problem solved by our incompetent 'professional' City Staff:
    Building Moratorium and ban on any new water meters until the water has been potable for at least 1 year.
    Watch them move Heaven & Earth to fix the mess.

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