The California Department of Public Health announced Tuesday, Jan. 28 that Lompico County Water District and its 494 connections, was one of the 17 systems statewide with the greatest risk to its drinking water due to drought conditions.
“As the severe drought continues, we’re working with the impacted communities to identify alternative water sources and additional resources,” CDPH Director Ron Chapman said in a statement.
In Lompico, as of press time, there had been less than three inches of rain since May 1, 2013. The area had received more than 30 inches by this time last year.
The CDPH announced that it will provide technical assistance to help the threatened districts, including identifying emergency interconnections to stabilize the water sources.
The state’s declaration was a surprise, but not a complete shock to Lompico Board President Lois Henry.
“The state department has been concerned about the district in some capacity for a long time,” Henry said.
Lompico has struggled through water supply and water treatment issues, even issuing several boil water notices over the past several years.
Lompico, Henry said, has seen a noticeable reduction in water production over the past few months — partly due to the drought, partly due to lower-functioning wells.
The district produced 1,788,380 gallons in November 2013 and produced 116,050 gallons fewer in December, bringing water production down to 1,672,330 gallons. The January production totals will be available February 12.
The district was unable to provide totals of how much water customers purchased and used in November and December.
In late January, Henry said, the district’s board asked for a 30 percent reduction in water usage for district customers. However, a 30 percent cut might be hard to reach for some customers.
“Let’s face it,” she said, “people in Lompico don’t use that much water. We have high rates and not many lawns or gardens.”
Additionally, she said, if customers conserve too much, the district won’t have enough revenue from water sales to run its operations.
Board member Sherwin Gott said he does not believe Lompico has a major water supply emergency on its hands at this time.
“Everyone has been talking about how Lompico will run out of water,” Gott said. “Will we have enough (water) under current consumption patters? Yes. It’s not fair for the directors to say we are going to run out of water.”
Additionally, Gott said the district could pump more groundwater if a well, Well No. 6, was brought back online. However, he noted, the water from the well has high sulfur content and smells of rotten eggs and would need to be run through a filtration system and a treatment plant before it became drinkable. The district has started the process, and is waiting for the state to give approval to bring the well back online.
Henry said a major line break, a well going down, or a fire could drain the system, but that normal usage would not likely cause the district to run out of water.
“If we don’t have a problem (like a fire or major disaster), I don’t think we run out of water,” she said.
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the district met with San Lorenzo Valley Water District officials to discuss an emergency intertie project that would connect SLV’s system temporarily to Lompico. The cost was estimated at $66,000 and grant monies are apparently available from the state to construct such a pipeline.
Additionally, Lompico stopped being able to draw water from Lompico Creek in August due to drought conditions. With normal rainfall, Lompico is able to draw surface water to alleviate the heavy use of wells and groundwater.
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