A resolution to the water emergency prompted by high nitrates in San Juan Bautista’s water supply may not come until Spring of 2015, according to City Manager Roger Grimsley, who said the Mission City continues to evaluate options to once again allow residents and businesses to use tap water.
“The State Division of Drinking Water gave us a compliance order that says we have to submit evidence we’re proceeding on (addressing the emergency) by March 31, 2015,” Grimsley said. Asked if he expects it would take that time to find a resolution, he said, “yes, I anticipate it will. Until we get potable water, the water emergency will remain in effect until the public health agency advises us to take it off.”
The city-issued drinking water warning that has been in effect since May encourages residents to not give city water to infants under 6 months old, pregnant women or people with immune deficiencies. Water sample tests continue to show nitrate levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 45 milligrams per liter. Nitrates in the drinking water are a “serious health concern’ for the groups mentioned, according to a city drinking water warning.
Water samples from June ranged from a low of 40.9 MCL on June 5 to a high of 80 MCL on June 13. The most recent published sample, from June 25, showed an MCL of 44, just below the maximum level.
City officials have considered various options to remedy the situation, from drilling new, deeper wells to tap into a deeper acquifer to the favored choice, an ion exchange system that has received preliminary approval from the city council last month. In the meantime, residents are urged not to boil, freeze or filter the water, as none of those strategies will reduce the level of nitrates. Local businesses have been using bottled water to cook with and serve to customers. Schools, residential rental property owners and managers, as well as business owners, managers and operators were required to pass along the water emergency notification.
The city continues to buy bottled water to provide upon request to residents who have infants, pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems. Grimsley said the amount of water purchased has varied from 11 cases one time to more than 25 another.
For more information about the water emergency, contact the City of San Juan Bautista at 311 Second St., by phone at 623-4661, after hours at 831-902-0887, or online at www.san-juan-bautista.ca.us.