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District to recognize citizens who discovered water leak

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer
7/23/2014

Thanks to the initiative of an East Quincy couple who reported water spilling from a water tank overflow spout, East Quincy Services District staff were able to isolate the problem June 25 that may have allowed 8 or more million gallons of water to go unaccounted for in the past four months.

Danielle and Jesse Frid were walking with their dog past the district’s well No. 1 when they saw copious amounts of water gushing out. They said they thought that surely district staff must know about the water and at first didn’t report it.

However, after reading about the missing water on plumasnews.com, and seeing water pouring out another time, the couple called EQSD’s office.

Staff had not found the problem previously because the overflow happened only intermittently, chief operator David Cottle told the board at its July 8 meeting.

“What a relief to have found such a dramatic water loss,” Cottle said.

He said the problem was a result of hydraulic imbalance, caused by telemetry parameters having been reset when the district upgraded its SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system in April.

The SCADA system allows messages from various components of the water system to be transmitted via radio telemetry — in essence allowing important pieces of operating equipment to “talk” to each other.

He said neither Sierra Controls — the district’s SCADA provider — nor district staff knew that the parameters had been reset.

That created a situation where tank 2 wasn’t reaching the water level set point that would tell tank 1, which feeds it, to shut itself off, Cottle said.

Mike Green, former EQSD board member and lead mechanic for Quincy Community Services District, was in the audience and said that an additional factor could be that last month, QCSD was drawing up to 300 gallons of water per minute from EQSD while one of its wells was being worked on.

QCSD routinely purchases water from EQSD during dry months, but not typically at such a constant, prolonged rate as happened during its well refurbishment.

A discussion regarding how to prevent such an occurrence in the future resulted in the board directing Cottle to investigate options such as a telemetry overflow alarm and/or a float switch on the overflow valve.

John Kolb, the district’s newest board member, proposed that the district reward the couple who reported the leak by adopting a resolution honoring them for discovering the water loss, and present them with a plaque.

The board agreed that the couple deserved recognition for taking action that saved the district from potentially losing millions more gallons of water, and voted to give them a gift certificate as well.

July 4 woes

Cottle had another issue to report to the board — an emergency concerning the district’s wastewater pump 2, which failed July 4. Cottle was on pager duty and received the emergency call.

He said he went to investigate, and found that the pump had shut itself off. He said he made several attempts to fix the problem, including reversing the flow, but couldn’t get the pump to work. The backup pump, which switched on automatically when pump 2 failed, solved the immediate problem throughout the weekend.

Cottle said when he and Tobi Leathers, the district’s other operator, pulled pump 2 and took it apart, they found a 2-foot section of 1-1/2-inch flat jacket hose caught inside the pump.

He said the pump was not damaged and after removing the hose, he and Leathers replaced the pump and switched it back on. Cottle said he did not know how the hose, which Green speculated was a dewatering hose from something like a sump pump, got into the sewer system.

New vice chairman

Director Kathy Felker was elected to fill the position of vice chairman of the board, which has been unfilled since former vice chairman Mike Green resigned a couple months ago. Felker was not present at the meeting.

The next regular board meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

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Good for this district, take care of each other and a float valve is a must on tanks like this.
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