District admits it should have notified state earlier on leak: Boil-water order continues for Kingsbury | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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District admits it should have notified state earlier on leak: Boil-water order continues for Kingsbury

Jeff Munson

STATELINE – Determined earlier this month to be a small leak of groundwater running into its water system, operators of the Kingsbury General Improvement District thought the problem was a maintenance issue and not a public health issue.

That is until last Thursday, when the agency reported the leak to state environmental officials who then issued a mandatory boil-water order for the district’s 2,600 customers in the Stateline and Kingsbury Grade areas.

KGID water manager Candi Rohr says she now regrets not telling the state immediately after the leak was discovered on July 19 instead of eight days later, adding that the district initially worked on the premise that the trace amount of groundwater that found its way into the district’s main water distribution system did not pose a public health problem.



“Because it was such a minuscule amount of water I was confident at the time that it wasn’t a public health issue,” Rohr said Monday. “The distress from the public and some citizens of what they are going through because they felt they weren’t notified in a timely matter is certainly something we regret. We are going to do things differently in the future.”

The state issued the boil-water order on Thursday after Rohr gave water officials a report about the July 19 leak discovery. Rohr ordered an internal report the day the leak was discovered and the report was handed to her by district engineers on Thursday after the source of the problem was identified. When she turned the report over to the state, that’s when it issued the boil-water order.



“Both the NDEP and KGID recognize that public health and safety are paramount,” said Doug Zimmerman, chief of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, in a statement made Thursday. “Although the leak is relatively small, we don’t want to take any chances that someone might become ill.”

Rohr admits she was surprised by the state’s reaction on the boil-water order when she turned in the report to the state about the leak and its subsequent repair plan.

“It was our determination that it was a maintenance issue and not a water-quality issue. However, in retrospect, I would now have contacted the state immediately upon discovering the leak,” she said.

Meanwhile, state environmental officials conducted water tests on Monday to determine whether the trace amount – determined to be 1/6 of a gallon per minute over an undetermined amount of time – did or did not contaminate the water system with bacteria.

The tests are standard and so far there have been no indications that coliform or any other bacteria have been found in the district’s drinking water.

“In (today’s) test the results take 24 hours to get back and it takes two days of testing. If both tests come back clean the order could be lifted as early as Wednesday afternoon,” said Dante Pistone, public information officer for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

KGID has received several complaints from customers about the boil-water order. Many of the calls have been from people who said they would have wanted to know about the leak the day it was found, Rohr said. At least two people have called the office saying they had become sickened, though no complaints have been officially made to state health officials.

“We now fully recognize, from public comment that we received, that the public wants to be notified of such issues like this even if there’s no impact on them,” she said. “We do plan to do this in the future.”

Inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headaches.

Rohr emphasized that all water put into the distribution system, including the water that leaked into the clearwell, has received the district’s normal chlorination treatment for bacteria.

“There was never any increased hazard from bacteria in the water,” Rohr said Sunday. “The district tests treated water weekly for coliform bacteria. The water continues to meet state and federal bacteriological standards.”

Water update

A boil water order remains in effect for most Stateline and Kingsbury Grade customers. Additional water tests were done by Nevada environmental officials on Monday. Results of Monday’s and today’s tests may determine whether the boil water order will be lifted on Wednesday.

Questions?

Call Kingsbury General Improvement District at (775) 588-3548.


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