Monday February 23, 2009

A Message to Napa Water Customers
From Phil Brun, City of Napa Water Division General Manager

Nearly everyone in the community endured the taste and odor issues in the City’s water system last week and over the weekend.  We in the Water Division recognize the disruption and inconvenience this event caused and apologize to residents and businesses.  Despite the water being safe and meeting health regulations, we did not meet our goals of delivering a high quality product to our customers.  I want to take a moment to describe what happened, how the City reacted, and what we are doing to avoid future issues.

North Bay Aqueduct water from the Delta is used by nearly all cities in Napa and Solano counties.  On Wednesday and Thursday last week, all cities were hit with raw water high in organic carbon due to the recent storm runoff.  The treatment process removed turbidity and contaminants to meet State drinking water regulations but the aesthetics (taste and odor) of the water were less than desirable.  We immediately took steps to switch off the plant treating Delta water and start up the plant at Lake Hennessey.  Water with the taste and odor issues was already in the distribution system and made its way throughout most of the City.

The only way to remove the taste and odor in the distribution system is to exchange it with new water from Lake Hennessey.  To accelerate this process, we immediately dispatched flushing crews to open hydrants and remove water in the affected areas.  We continued flushing the system over the weekend.  Some have questioned why we were wasting water on flushing considering the drought conditions in California.  I appreciate that water conservation is on our customers mind.  Flushing operations used approximately 8-million gallons of water – less than the amount of water used by the entire City in one winter day.  I had to weigh the benefits to the aesthetic quality of the water in the system against this relatively small amount of water use.  Water conservation is on my mind too and in January I cancelled our normal system flushing for the year which would have used over 60-million gallons of water.

The City is taking steps to prevent future taste and odor issues.  Improvements currently underway at the Edward I. Barwick Jamieson Treatment Plant include the addition of ozone treatment.  The new process will help the City address taste and odor issues.  The ozone system is scheduled to be on-line during the summer of 2010.

We are working with the Department of Water Resources to ensure the raw water quality from the Delta is sufficient to avoid further issues.  We will continue to use Lake Hennessey supply water until the problem is resolved.  It may take a few more days for all areas of the system to receive Lake Hennessey water.  Your water should be tasting better.  If the taste and odor in your water has not improved over the last few days, please call us at 257-9521. 

We appreciate your patience as we take steps to correct the taste and odor issues.