Hoping to capture thousands of gallons of water that flows down storm drains unused during daily water system checks throughout Hollister, the city council this week authorized the $190,000 purchase of a 4,000-gallon water truck.
Management Services Director Mike Chambless said instead of opening fire hydrants and letting the water flow uncaptured for up to 10 minutes at a time as crews seek clean samples to test chlorine levels in the supply, the water truck will collect that water and use it to water street trees or other city landscaping and it will be an auxiliary water tender for the Hollister Fire Department.
During the daily sampling process, hydrants are opened to flush the standing water and collect a fresh sample, Chambless noted in a report to the council. "Due to the unprecedented water emergency we are currently in, staff would like to capture that water and use it for other daily operations such as filling of other equipment water tanks or irrigation," he said.
Questioned by Mayor Ignacio Velazquez whether the hydrants had to be opened for a full 10 minutes, Chambless said that some actually are let to drain in to the street for up to 20 minutes until an appropriate sample can be taken. The mayor also asked whether a smaller truck could be purchased, as "it's hard to justify spending $190,000."
Chambless said that "there is not that much cost savings" if a smaller or older-model water truck were to be purchased, as a used model costs about $130,000 compared to the $160,000 cost of a new one. The additional $30,000 cost is to equip the truck to serve as a water tender for the fire department.
While Chambless told the council that he would not have requested the truck purchase if there was not a drought, City Manager William Avera emphasized its dual purpose as a "critical" fire apparatus, since there is only one water tender. "It works nicely as a backup."
After discussion, the council voted 4-1 to approve the purchase of the water truck using water enterprise funds, with Velazquez voting against the purchase.