PLEASANTON – Drawing a drink from the kitchen faucet or taking a shower or bath a year ago in July for Pleasanton residents was not, well, pleasant. Discolored water that smelled and tasted as bad or worse than it looked drew hundreds of complaints from customers of the city’s water utility.
Postings about the city’s water blew up Facebook, and it seemed none of the comments were positive.
Fast forward a year, and at least for now, the problem has been addressed. Not necessarily solved, but addressed. And Pleasanton City Administrator Teresa Whitaker has her fingers crossed that the city’s water utility won’t have a repeat performance.
Councilman Aaron Portman questioned Public Works Superintendent Joey Morrisey about the water issue at the city council meeting earlier last week.
Morrisey said workers had been constantly monitoring the system, and unless there would be a problem with a pump failing or an issue with chemical imbalance, he expected for the water quality to remain good as long as the system was consistent. He added that he had received three complaints about smell and taste but not about color.
Whitaker told the council that crews were also flushing hydrants around town in hopes of avoiding a water-quality repeat of last year.
Mid- to late-summer is the time of year that the lake water is more consistently warm, and chemicals used to treat the water change to meet those conditions. In the past, the city has used a “chlorine burnout” in the late spring or early summer at the advice of various water resource agencies.
That is a process that disinfects the system and it helps prevent chemicals like manganese from sticking to the inside of the pipe, according to Whitaker. Water can test relatively high for manganese without being harmful for human consumption, however, a small amount of manganese can impart a distasteful odor and taste to the water.
As part of the chlorine burnout, city crews have to carefully monitor chemicals and flush hydrants around the city to keep the water quality high.
So this year the city is trying something different. Instead of doing the chlorine burnout in early summer, the city will wait until this fall to do the process. And so far it has worked.
With the lake more uniformly heated up now with less chance of turning over, the window may be past for the problems with the water, according to Whitaker.
“We’re hoping we nailed it this time,” she said.