More testing is necessary before Quincy residents and visitors have drinking water from the tap and now it looks as if Thursday will be the earliest that could happen. This notice does not affect East Quincy residents.
American Valley Community Services District (AVCSD) conducted a routine monthly water test Wednesday, June 5, and it indicated the presence of E. coli bacteria, said AVCSD General Manager Jim Doohan. He was unsure at the time if it was a false positive or if there was a serious problem.
By June 6, AVCSD employees had traced the source of the contamination. Vandals had destroyed a section of waterline in the Claremont water system, Doohan said. That section of piping that carries water from the spring to the tank has to be above ground to function properly, Doohan explained.
It isn’t known just when the vandalism took place, but the heavy rain and hail storm Monday evening, June 3, probably picked up contaminated substances from the forest floor and that entered the damaged pipe and water system.
He contacted the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy took over that part of the investigation. Vandalism isn’t uncommon to water tanks, but this is the first time in Doohan’s 30-year experience it has been this bad.
To combat the contamination the district is using chlorine throughout the West Zone. And more testing is conducted as required by DWR.
At this point, chlorine has been used throughout the West Zone system and it was time to flush the fire hydrants, Doohan said June 10. “It’s hard to get it all out,” he said about the chlorine.
More testing is scheduled and will continue until testing shows there is no contamination. If there is no sign of contamination, DWR could lift the boil water advisory Thursday, June 13, Doohan said.
If there is any sign of contamination the system would have to be re-chlorinated, Doohan said. That could mean the boil water advisory could continue into the weekend.
Although E. coli can cause intestinal complications especially to the very young and elderly and to anyone with compromised health, Public Health Office Dr. Mark Satterfield said that there are no confirmed cases of E. coli that have been reported.
“All water systems routinely tests for bacteria,” said Sipe last week. “They look for total coliform and E. coli bacteria to indicate the safety of the water supply. Whenever bacteria is found, certain actions are required. In this case, they found both total coliform and E. coli so a boiled/bottled water notice was issued.”
“It is important to remember that E. coli represents a group of bacteria and not all E. coli will cause disease or make people sick,” Sipe said.
AVCSD’s regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, June 13, is set for 9 a.m. at the Plumas County Library community room to allow for additional seating.
More details of the incident will be reported in this week’s issue of the newspaper.