California Water Treatment Plant Malfunction Responsible for Boil Advisory

Jan. 9, 2020

A report released by the city of Poway, California attributed its recent boil advisory to a faulty valve connected to a filtered water reservoir at the Lester J. Berglund Water Treatment Plant near Lake Poway. 

A malfunction at the Lester J. Berglund Water Treatment Plant in Poway, California led to the contamination of the potable water supply and a boil advisory to be put into place, reported NBC San Diego.

According to the citation, the issue was the reservoir’s proximity to the storm drain. Regular facility inspections by the California State Water Resources Control Board over the last 50 years uncovered no similar compliance issues, however.

When the reservoir is at risk of overflowing, the flap opens and allows water to release into a nearby storm drain. Residents noticed discolored water coming from their faucets in late November, according to NBC San Diego. The boil advisory also led to the closure of restaurants and food service companies within city limits. The advisory lasted six days.

City officials believe the valve somehow became stuck open and a 16-page report revealed a piece of rope was responsible for the malfunction. As the valve was stuck open, storms backed up the storm drain, so contaminated runoff spilled back into the reservoir.

Following the contamination, the city conducted water quality testing, which confirmed the water met state standards by day three of the advisory, reported NBC San Diego. The city had to wait for the state to review the results and lift the advisory, however.

“Actually, the water is well within our standards for drinking. I’m still drinking it, but the state, they’re a little more skittish. Sacramento works in strange ways, so we’re giving out water to make sure our folks are taken care of,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.

The state is expected to issue Poway a citation for its water treatment facility being out of compliance, according to NBC San Diego. The city set up water distribution stations at Lake Poway and Poway City Hall in the meantime to give residents cases of clean drinking water.

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Cristina Tuser