Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is Sierra Madre To Be A Chloramine Water City Forever?

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At Tuesday evening's City Council meeting the topic of Chloramines and the blending of Sierra Madre's native water with the stuff being piped in from the Metropolitan Water District was given long shrift. The purpose of all this heavy lifting was to somehow move forward in resolving a problem that has been with us for a considerable amount of time now. That being the yellow and sometimes even close to black foul smelling stuff that is coming from the taps of Sierra Madre's captive water users. Which, of course, is what you are in this town. As of this moment the only way to get away from it is to move.

How long has this been going on? Here is a portion of a Los Angeles Times article that ran back in December of 2013 (link).


You'd think the City would have gotten a grip on this by now. 

In June of 2014 City Hall hired a consultant to deal with the problem. Here is how we first revealed that news here on The Tattler (link):


So what has happened since then? According to what we heard Tuesday evening, outside of producing three rather physically weighty studies (much of it boilerplate), not that much.

This becomes even more troubling when you consider that yellow water problems get worse as the weather warms up, and with summer approaching we could be in for quite a ride. Throw in nitrification, the cause of things such as that frightening "Blue Baby Syndrome" health issue we mentioned above, and the stage is once again set for a lot of unhappiness.

Fun fact. Dr. Baribeau first made her reputation in the toxic liquid trade as an expert on tropical water borne diseases. Here is how we relayed that information in this same article from June of 2014.


I'm not certain that really is all that comforting, though. Third World water problems are not what you'd expect to find in so tony a city as Sierra Madre.

There is one strategy that City Hall has been working on for a while now, at least on paper. That is blending Metropolitan Water District water with Sierra Madre's native version. Ironically, that will involve introducing chloramines into our original water supply, and wasn't that supposed to be the cause of these problems in the first place?

That plus this "blending process" will also set the city back a cool $150,000. Or at least that is the price being quoted now. This will also take a lot of time to accomplish. Expensive equipment will need to be purchased, and then there is the time needed to install and test it, plus all the usual L.A. County and Sacramento paperwork and process that comes along with such an effort. With few guarantees being made that it will really accomplish very much beyond merely diluting the MWD stuff a little.

Sierra Madre is hardly unique when it comes to the effects of introducing chloramines into a water system. Other cities have experienced this problem over the years, and the results were initially similar. It has even become something of a business. Here a company called AquaCare takes this commercial angle on the matter (link).


There is always a buck to be made somewhere.
  
This is the catch as I see it. As previously said, other cities have also experienced yellow water problems caused by the introduction of chloramine. The interaction of chlorine and ammonia with older pipes usually being blamed. But in most of those other municipalities that problem began to clear up after six months. Which, as you may recall, is the exact same time frame Bruce Inman shared with us when this problem first began to be discussed back in 2013.

But for whatever reason that has not happened here. The problem is quickly becoming a chronic one. This despite the as yet clearly defined efforts made by the city and its water quality consultant.

There is also a bigger question. What if it isn't chloramine that is causing these yellow water problems? Or at least not chloramine alone? Since it appears that the length and duration of this problem is now becoming unique to us, maybe it is time to move beyond City Hall's complete faith in its still remote "water bending process" and look into a few other things as well?

Perhaps the Metropolitan Water District's water just does not work favorably with Sierra Madre's systems. The amount of residue, sediment and rotten smell we're experiencing in the water here is in no way normal. We're becoming an outlier, the unique case.

City Staff will tell us that the pipes are old and decayed, and that is the reason for these problems. However, other cities that introduced chloramines into their water systems had old pipes as well, and as I said their yellow water problems cleared up within six months.

Ours have not. If anything, they are now getting worse. 

So maybe there are other causes. Don't you think that maybe this should be looked into as well? Run a few tests, perhaps? It is rather frightening to think that there could be other causes, ones that we don't know about yet since nobody even bothered to look.

Considering the time that has already gone by, that isn't as good a result as hoped.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. is Sierra Madre the only town with yellow/black water? Are any of our neighboring cities experiencing the same problem?

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  2. Accidental TouristMay 14, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    In the meantime, I'm sticking to beer. Just like when I visit Mexico.

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  3. How about our own imported sounding bottled water? Agua Mala.

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  4. Water at my house runs clear 24/7!

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    Replies
    1. 24/7? Don't you know we're supposed to be cutting down on our water usage?

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    2. Please 6:19. Turn off your tap.

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    3. All joking aside if I run my water a lot it always runs clear. If I'm out of town or don't use a particular faucet it runs yellow/brown and smells for about a minute then clears up

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    4. I think we've found the cause of the Sierra Madre water shortgae.

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    5. You should never leave a faucet on when you are out of town, 8:17.

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  5. Off topic, but … The Sheriff candidate endorsed by two Sierra Madre Mayors, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Mountain Views News will be doing his perp walk soon.
    Tanaka, Ex-Captain Face Indictment in Jail Corruption Scandal, Sources Say
    http://ktla.com/2015/05/13/tanaka-ex-captain-face-indictment-in-jail-corruption-scandal-sources-say/

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    Replies
    1. Characters who obviously can't judge character.

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    2. Would those two Mayors include John Harabedian?

      That's another great accomplishment to put on his record for re-election 2016!

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    3. Yep. And Nancy Pants.

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  6. Councilwoman Delmar suggested that we get to the root of the problem. She made her point twice at the council meeting. Instead they gave 100,000 to buy 2 mixers. Spending more money and we will still have the problem.

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    Replies
    1. Makes sense. We spent $50,000 on a consultant and nothing got done. Spend another $100,000 to buy a couple of mixers and the result will still be the same. City Hall's solution to every problem is to spend a lot of money. Then raise taxes.

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    2. Gotta spend that water rate increase $$$$$! Goodness knows, we can't just increase reserves, even though that was the "reason" for the rate increase.

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  7. What would be the lag time if we started injecting this stinky yellow water just upgradient of our wells and waited for it to flow to our wells? Would the water clear up for us? Could sierra madre use MWD water to locally replenish our aquifer instead of just supplying this water?

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    Replies
    1. We could, but it wouldn't help us because Arcadia would pump it out before the water levels have a chance to rise.

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    2. Correction, steal it.

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    3. A modern family Arcadia home has 5.5 bathrooms, 4 sinks, two dishwashers, a pool, a jacuzzi and a bright green lawn the size of two football fields. Now why would they want to steal our water?

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  8. I have talked to at least 5 plumbers in town and I get the same stories from all of them. We see the yellow, red, grey water coming out of peoples pipes all the time. One plumber said since the city has switched to chloramine he has repaired over 50 leaks. Said it's not bad for his business but he is worried about the future of his customers pipes. One apartment manager said that since the new water in town he has called a plumber 4 times for leaks, said it's always at a joint. One person said that their shower curtains are rusty and they are tired of contacting the city and getting no call backs any more. One lady said she was told to run the water until it clears but when she got her water bill she had to pay the full amount even after following instructions to run the water. Really makes a person have faith in the leadership of our city.

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    1. THe plumbers are worried about their customers pipes but it's good for business.. I'm worried about the "pipes" in my body.. guess it's good for my doctors business. Too bad and frustrating that we're so good at observing and commenting on all this as it happens to our community but not smart enough to steer things toward a long term fix in a timely manner.

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    2. I agree. If it can scour the rust from pipes dating back to the 1920s, think of what it is doing to you.

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    3. 9.11 makes an excellent point about how reactive chloramines are. O.K. human internal 'pipes' are not iron so it isn't a perfect indicator of anything alarming but...More concerning is that chloramine is so reactive that it corrodes soldered joints and creates pinholes in copper pipe.There is nothing that you would normally eat or drink that is that corrosive on metal!
      The aesthetic aspects of the discolored/odoriferous water can be prevented in your home by retrofitting the pipe work with PeX ,Hdpe,PVC or other plastics. But until the City replaces it's pipes with the same,the problem will continue.

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  9. These people need to pound the councilmen, the city manager, inman on a daily basis. Advise councilmen that they are not getting answers. Do it over and over.

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    Replies
    1. 8:21, the 1950s called. They want the term "councilman" back.

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    2. 11:12 - your PC Policy is in danger of lapsing. Please get your premium in today.

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    3. so 11:37 does that mean we don't talk to (as you would say) Councilwomen? Sexist.

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    4. Actually in Sierra Madre just about the only ones you want to talk to are the Councilwomen. Thanks for bringing this important matter up, Commentwoman.

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    5. No Bruce Jenner here, sorry.

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    6. Council member, Commentator.
      No big deal to fix inaccurate speech.

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    7. It is good to break the rules once in a while. Kind of like shaking apples out of a tree.

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  10. So the last I was reading, we've overpumped the aquifer, and now the rules that say we are required to reduce pumping are in place to allow it to replenish. But the levels aren't going up.

    Within this point, it said both Arcadia and Sierra Madre had waived the "500 foot rule" for over a decade. In other words, it appears that when the water table drops below 500 feet, we're supposed to reduce pumping. But we didn't. For over a decade. And we're down at around 380 feet now. Am I reading that right? So basically we kept pumping water out during wet years, instead of letting the water level rise up to help us through a drought just like this one.

    If true, when the rains come back we need to bank all of the water so we're not beholden to WMD when the rivers are down. Basically it seems like the long term solution is to use this crappy WMD water during wet years (when the rivers are high), and overwater our lawns so that we use that oversupply of river water to get into our own aquifer. We get above 500 feet during the wet years, and when a dry year comes we use our own groundwater and don't use any WMD water at all.

    The trouble is WMD water is more expensive. And grosser.

    If we want local water only, we're probably two decades out from getting groundwater high enough to count on, and in addition we are going to have to convince Arcadia to use a lot less so that both communities are within sustainable use through wet and dry years.

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    Replies
    1. You're reading that right. The pumping should have been cut back years ago.

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  11. If we tried to sell the Water Company now, would there be anyone dumb enough to buy it?

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    Replies
    1. Sure. Selling MWD water at a guaranteed profit margin? I'd invest in that.

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    2. Best of luck with that bond debt.

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    3. Golden State in Claremont gets a guaranteed markup even if you conserve water. I want that deal!

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  12. Will Dr. Baribeau be re-upped soon? After all, her work has just begun!

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  13. One of the insets describing the qualifications of Doctor Baribeau lists an organization called "Doctors Without Boarders." Is anyone familiar with it? I need to rent a room and it sounds like they might have some available.

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  14. We do not drink the stuff - but I'm starting to worry about the effects of our showers & baths on the skin.
    http://www.chloramine.org/chloraminefacts.htm#effectsofchloramine

    The EPA is "unable to draw conclusions". So far.
    http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/disinfection/chloramine/pdfs/Q24.pdf

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    Replies
    1. maybe they should use Sierra Madreans as their study group.

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  15. Nice endorsement indicted by the LA Grand Jury Paul Tanaka

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  16. Here's hoping the council comes to its senses and does not convert exclusively to chloramine. We're stuck for now with MWD water, but this can't go on forever. There must be some way to mix our water with MWD water when we do have enough to pump. I say, get a second opinion of another "expert".

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  17. Doctors Without Boarders, Mèdicins Sans Frontièrs, is one of the best world-wide emergency organizations out there. They were in Nepal with a mobile hospital amongst the first to arrive and were at the head of the effort in the Ebola crisis. The glib question about needing a room by 9:21 is unfortunately ill-informed. The work that Baribeau has done in parts of the world where women lose their lives while walking miles for drinking water though the bush must make our problems look fairly petty. Having said that, yes we do have high expectations as we should. Efforts on the part of Americans, namely the Peace Corps, have been working around the world in water projects for a very long time sharing knowledge of clean water systems that we have had in the US for decades. Having said all that, I do think we are being misled on the question of chloramines. Saying they have been used in the US for 90 years does not say how widely and on-line research shows only about 22% of Americans drink water from systems treated with chloramines. The addition of ammonia to chlorine results in several different compounds and that is why the word is pluralized: the end results has to do with the changing ph and the temperature of the water locally and there are several different chloramines.

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  18. Loving this rain.

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  19. Harvesting rain water? I am. Planning how to do it better next time.

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    Replies
    1. Go to the Weather Underground site and look up the article on the "Suprise El Nino." I'd post a link but I am out on my cell phone.

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    2. Isn't that illegal to harvest rainwater? bet it will be.

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  20. Didn't the city a few years back invest over a million dollars into a new system specifically for our wells and now can not use this system for mwd water. Anyway, something like that, anyone know?

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    1. MWD water comes already treated, so the City does not use the system for the water they are using now. The issue is, if and when we are able to pump our own water, should we use chlorine to treat it or use chloramine? If we could depend on using our own ground water for a long, long period of time, chlorine would be the answer, but we can't keep switching back and forth between water use, If we have to go back to using the MWD water, we'd have to go through the same problems all over again. The million dollar treatment facility would make no difference .

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  21. Not illegal to harvest rain in Sierra Madre and there is one water district (La Cañada?) giving rebates on rain barrels.

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  22. I'd like to know if a soft water system along with chloromines will become a recipe for a UCLA like city pipe bursting ?

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