The latest Napa County Grand Jury report, released June 14, concludes that the county’s tap water is safe to drink.
But while the investigation found the water meets state and federal quality standards, the water generally has odor, taste and color issues.
As a result, the Jury wants Calistoga and other municipalities to pay more attention to complaints about water quality. These recommendations include creating more uniform complaint procedures, as well as public communications protocols to inform consumers about all aspects of water quality.
With regard to those issues, Calistoga is ahead of the game. For the past few years, the city has been working on upgrading its water system, and improving communication with residents about water quality, said Acting Public Works Director Derek Rayner.
During 2017, 10 complaints were registered in Calistoga related to water taste, odor and color.
In 2018 there were 12, mainly due to work on the replacement of the Feige Water tank. So far this year, the city has received fewer complaints, Raynor said, and in fact, the public works department recently received a compliment from a resident of Rancho De Calistoga on the quality of the water. Residents of the mobile home park have been vocal critics of the water in the past.
The city’s new state-of-the-art Feige Water Storage Tank has been operational since December. The tank’s technology includes a computer system that monitors, among other things, how much chlorine is in the water. It also includes mixers and a THM (trihalomethanes) removal system, both of which serve to reduce bacteria levels. It also has an automated chlorination system.
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The city has also been regularly flushing fire hydrants and notifying the public that when this occurs water color and odor may temporarily change.
“Our staff follows up with each customer complaint and visits the site to test chlorine residuals at the service or customer supply line. If low, we will flush the service line or if there continues to be taste and odor issues staff will flush the physical large water supply main in the street near the complaint location to remove any quality issues,” Raynor said. “This typically resolves the complaints. Staff encourages customers to call us back if it continues. With each complaint staff fills out a complaint form that gets reported to the State Water Resource Control Board Division of Drinking Water on a regular basis.”
The city also recently installed a new automated flush system onto fire hydrants, with declorination tablets and timers that will open the hydrants in the middle of the night and flush out the line, Raynor said. This happens a couple of times a week.
“As a result we’ve seen some really good results on chlorine residuals,” he said.
Calistoga gets 30–40 percent of its water from Kimball Reservoir and the rest from the state water project that pulls water out of the delta, pumps the water up to Cordelia and from there to all the cities in the surrounding area including Napa. That water goes through the Jamison Canyon Water Treatment Plant.
The city has also hired a team of water quality experts to provide an engineering study on future, long range water quality improvements, mainly on the Napa water supply side, and that report is just being wrapped up.
The county report has asked cities to respond to the county on how they are dealing with the issue within 90 days.